Improving the Health of Brownsville
Building Healthy Communities
December 13, 2017
Good health outcomes are more prevalent in neighborhoods where people have easy access to nutritious, affordable food; safe and walkable streets; and active playgrounds and public spaces.
Living in neighborhoods without these essentials, residents are more likely to be burdened with high rates of obesity, diabetes, or other chronic illnesses. In 2015, NYSHealth launched its Healthy Neighborhoods Fund, an initiative to help six communities across New York State become healthier and more active places. NYSHealth invested $2 million in the initiative during its first two years, and has since leveraged an additional $181 million in funding for these six communities—helping nearly half a million New Yorkers have greater access to healthy, affordable food and safe ways in which to be physically active. NYSHealth is continuing its commitment to the Healthy Neighborhoods Fund by investing an additional $2.5 million over the next three years in these six communities. In 2017, NYSHealth awarded Community Solutions a grant to continue its participation in the initiative.
Under the second phase of the initiative, Community Solutions built upon efforts to enhance and activate spaces for physical activity, with the overall goal of decreasing crime and increasing feelings of safety in public places. Community Solutions worked to ensure that the physical environment in Brownsville is safer, better maintained, inviting, vibrant, and able to evolve to meet neighborhood needs. Community Solutions engaged 1,500 residents in civic activities annually, including 500 youth. It conducted three vacant space activations a year. It built the capacity of the Friends of Brownsville Parks (FOBP) and helped develop sports and fitness programs by connecting FOBP with funding, increasing resident engagement, and formalizing committee and working groups for FOBP. Community Solutions worked to increase access to healthy and affordable foods by supporting neighborhood partners and providing technical assistance and capacity building. Specifically, it supported Project EATS in its plan to create a farm stand/cafe on the Marcus Garvey Village farm site, as well as provided technical assistance for the installation and modification of a shipping container into a healthy cafe for residents.