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Twin Cities light rail project presents both opportunities and risks for health, according to report
Date:1/4/2012

health by allowing people to afford food, safe housing, and medical care. This HIA offered practical recommendations, such as making additional parking available during construction to help small businesses attract and retain shoppers.

The HIA also identified that when redevelopment occurs in the corridor, housing costs would likely rise and lead to health risks if lower-income residents struggle to afford necessities such as rent, food, heat, and medicine. The transit line passes through some of the region's most diverse and lowest-income communities.

If people moved because of rising prices, the cultural and social aspects of the communities would change dramatically. Research shows that when people are more actively engaged in a community, they are more likely to walk and shop in the neighborhood, to know their neighbors, and to look out for one another. These benefits translate into lower crime and violence, and better health outcomes.

The HIA study identified affordable housing as a community priority, and as a result of the report's recommendation, the St. Paul city council created a work group to identify ways to preserve and enhance access to housing for low-income residents. The council also commissioned feasibility analyses on two proposals prioritized by a community steering committee representing a wide range of organizations and interests. One program would expand the incentives to developers who provide affordable housing in new residential and mixed-use development projects and a pilot that would help cover the cost of reserving some of the housing close to proposed light rail stations for lower-income households.

Although all HIAs include a stakeholder engagement portion to guide the study, this project's level of engagement, particularly with low-income people and communities of color, was unprecedented in the city of St. Paul, according to the report. The project created a community steering committee of more t
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Contact: Alex Dery Snider
aderysnider@pewtrusts.org
202-540-6590
Pew Health Group
Source:Eurekalert

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