Building Healthy Communities

Project Title

Evaluating Active Design in Affordable Housing

Grant Amount


Priority Area

Building Healthy Communities

Date Awarded

April 25, 2016







To tackle some of the underlying problems that have affected the health of neighborhoods, NYHealth launched the Healthy Neighborhoods Fund initiative to help New York State communities become healthier and more active places.

Through the Healthy Neighborhoods Fund, NYHealth is investing $2 million over two years to support six communities across the State in their efforts to increase access to healthy, affordable food; improve access to safe places where residents can exercise and be active; and connect children and adults to programs that support healthy behaviors. Although all the communities are working toward the common goal of improving the health of their residents, each community may face particular challenges. In response, NYHealth is supporting these communities with more specialized technical assistance to help them meet their goals. In 2016, NYHealth awarded Center for Active Design, Inc., (the Center) a grant to provide technical assistance for an evaluation of the impact of Active Design strategies on affordable housing in Brownsville, Brooklyn, a Healthy Neighborhoods Fund site.

Under this grant, the Center evaluated the impact of Active Design strategies on levels of physical activity among residents moving into Prospect Plaza, a newly constructed affordable housing building in Brownsville. A substantial body of evidence links the design of the built environment to physical and mental outcomes. Active Design strategies are the translation of this evidence into design solutions that promote health. The Center collected baseline data before residents move into Prospect Plaza that contributed to an evaluation of the health impact of Active Design as compared with residents of a building that does not have Active Design elements. The Center then developed a policy brief to highlight the opportunity of using the design of affordable housing to impact health and physical activity, synthesizing research, policy, and practice around Active Design.

Read the policy brief, “Understanding the Impact of Active Design in Affordable Housing: Insights for Policymakers and Developers.” Watch a video about an Active Design affordable housing site in Brownsville, Brooklyn and how its outdoor equipment, gardens, and access to healthy food is improving the health and wellbeing of residents.