CDCs & Health

The health of a community is closely tied to the health of its residents. A large part of personal health is determined by someone’s social and physical environments. That is where CDCs can and do have a major impact on health: CDCs’ work on resident services, property maintenance and more has all been shown to impact health. A 2014 Health Impact Assessment (HIA) of the activities of CDCs across the Commonwealth found evidence of decreased cardiovascular disease, domestic violence and substance abuse in communities with active CDCs. The Health Impact Assessment, conducted by Health Resources in Action (HRIA) and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) detailed the clear relationship between the work of CDCs and the direct health improvements to area residents.

MACDC is working to make health an even more explicit aspect of its work and the work of its members:

  • Trainings on health – MACDC and the Mel King Institute conducted a series of trainings on health in 2015. The topics included access to food and building local food economies, public health and its impact, and the impact of walkability on health.
  • Articles on the interconnection - MACDC published a series of articles on the link between community development and health in 2016. The topics included housing and children’s health, why food matters to community development, and how hospitals are investing in communities.
  • Massachusetts Food Trust Program - MACDC is working with the Massachusetts Public Health Association to secure funding for this program (MFTP). The MFTP was enacted in 2014, to provide loans, grants and technical assistance for healthy food retailers and enterprises in low-and moderate-income communities. Not only do healthy food options improve the health of these communities, but they can also provide well-paying jobs and spur economic growth. MACDC and partners are surveying organizations around the state to identify those in need of the MFTP funding.
  • CDC and health partnerships - This year, along with Community Catalyst, MACDC will train CDCs on building partnerships with hospitals and health centers. There is growing recognition that CDCs can play a major role in health. These trainings will help CDCs understand how to leverage their connections with hospitals and health centers to help meet their shared goals for improving community health, and help communities meet their health needs as well.
  • Smoke-Free Housing - MACDC embraces smoke-free housing and will offer encouragement and support to our Members’ efforts to transition to smoke-free housing. Over 20 MACDC Members report that their housing portfolios are either partially or fully smoke-free, and cite both health benefits for all residents and shared economic benefits (including compelling marketing advantages for smoke-free properties, reduced maintenance costs, reduced fire risks, and potentially lower insurance costs).  MACDC intends to work with housing and public health professionals and agencies, and our Members, to structure appropriate policies that will accelerate the adoption of smoke-free housing.
  • Lead Poisoning Prevention - MACDC supports the activities of its members in reducing the hazards posed by lead paint. Lead exposure remains a significant health risk for children in Massachusetts, and recent evidence suggests that even relatively low lead levels can result in irreversible health effects. In 2015, ten MACDC Members administered over $1.1 million to abate lead in 66 homes. MACDC successfully advocated in 2016 for enhancements to the Commonwealth’s Get the Lead Out Program, which will make it easier for families to gain access this critical funding and thereby reduce the number of children exposed to lead.

Community Development and Health: Finding the Connections
Community development is about improving neighborhoods and towns holistically. The articles below showcase existing efforts, opportunities and best practices for how CDCs can boost health and wellness in their communities.

A special thanks to the Citi Foundation for supporting MACDC's Community Development and Health Project, which allowed us to develop the following articles: