NeighborWorks® Rochester Chosen for Pilot Health Study

Mom and daughterNeighborWorks® Rochester actively remains current on trends and research in the field of community development through specific Community Initiatives, including the intersection of housing and health. According to the Healthcare Intelligence Network, “Evidence is mounting that social determinants of health—social, economic and environmental factors that impact quality of life—significantly influence population health. Research published by Brigham Young University in 2015 determined that the social determinants of loneliness and social isolation pose as great a threat to longevity as obesity. Cognizant of the need to promote social and physical environments conducive to optimal health, more than two-thirds of healthcare organizations now assess populations for social determinants of health (SDOH) as part of ongoing care management.”[1]

Because of attention focused on health outcomes both from community partners and from funders, it is increasingly necessary for community development organizations to demonstrate that their programming makes an impact on the SDOH of their target populations in a way that measurably improves health outcomes over time. With support from organizations including the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation and the Kresge Foundation, Enterprise Community Partners and NeighborWorks® America launched a Health Outcomes Demonstration Pilot in order to “build organizations’ capacity to evaluate the health outcomes of their work through a national cohort, building the body of evidence demonstrating housing and community development’s contribution to improved health outcomes.”[2] Only 20 organizations were awarded the opportunity to participate, which includes technical assistance, grant support, peer-to-peer learning, and most importantly, access to a comprehensive set of data collection tools that were developed and tested by Success Measures to measure health outcomes of programs and initiatives on the populations they serve.

NeighborWorks® Rochester was awarded a slot in the Pilot to evaluate Healthy Blocks, its creative neighborhood-strengthening initiative that makes a five-year commitment to a neighborhood (in this case, the Triangle) in transition with the goals of improving property conditions, resident engagement, and neighborhood image. Healthy Blocks staff worked with a consultant to develop an evaluation that focuses on the SDOH upon which the projects, events, and other elements of Healthy Blocks have the most direct effect; namely, social cohesion (community efficacy, inter-resident trust, participation, etc.). The Healthy Blocks initiative is a more complicated endeavor to evaluation compared with other service-providing programs that have more direct and specific contact and service delivery to participants. Because the initiative is designed to work in tandem with market forces and measures its success based resident satisfaction, block conditions, and rising home values (all of which have a wide variety of confounding variables), it is with caution that we attribute improvements in health outcomes to the work directly done by Healthy Blocks. However, in an effort to evaluate the initiative as accurately as possible, our target population consists of Triangle neighborhood residents who have been directly involved in at least one HB-sponsored activity or reside in a geographical location immediately surrounding our existing or planned public streetscape improvements.

[1] Abstract from “Social Determinants of Health in 2017: Scarcity of Supportive Services Hampers SDOH Linkages” 2017 Healthcare Intelligence Network <http://www.hin.com/library/registerSocialHealthDeterminants2017.html>

[2] Excerpt from Health Outcomes Demonstration Project Q&A Webinar, presented 12 September 2016 Enterprise Community Partners https://www.enterprisecommunity.org/resources/national-health-outcomes-demonstration-project-qa-webinar-1-18246, emphasis added

How would adding second bathroom make an impact on my home and my neighborhood?

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A unique feature of NeighborWorks® Rochester’s Healthy Blocks Initiative is its approach to neighborhood stabilization by the use of data to develop new projects. This data-driven trajectory resulted in the Triangle Half-Bath Program, a pilot project funded by the Community Design Center of Rochester’s Development and Design Fund Grant and NeighborWorks® America’s Pride in Place Grant. The Half-Bath Program provided ten Triangle neighborhood homeowners with free architectural renderings (provided by the local firm Architectura, PC) and cost estimates to plan a half-bath addition to their one-bathroom home.

The Half-Bath Program was driven by results from a comprehensive market study conducted in the Triangle in 2015. The study revealed that 74% of the Triangle’s single-family housing stock was built before 1940. Because of this, the majority of these homes are three bedroom, one-bathroom houses with the bath located on the second floor. The study also documented that over a ten-year period, 64% of the single-family homes that sold for less than $65,000 were purchased by investors. At the same time, properties with one and a half bathrooms sold for, on average, $10,000 more than homes with only one bathroom, making them less attractive to investorsThe addition of a half-bath to a one-bathroom property has the potential for several positive outcomes. First, a second bathroom on the first floor can make the home more practical and comfortable for growing families, guests, and/or elderly residents or relatives who have more trouble climbing stairs—all of which can lead to a family remaining longer in the home. Second, the value added by the second bath raises the purchase price of the home above investor interest, so that if the family does decide to move, their home is more likely to be purchased by an owner-occupant. Both of these factors contribute to the neighborhood’s long-term stability.

With the total cost of the project often falling below the $10,000 mark, adding a half-bath (or in some cases, another full bath) is a good investment for many homeowners. However, there are barriers to beginning the project, such as finding an architect, paying for initial estimates, and a general lack of knowledge and experience about the project’s costs and process. The Half-Bath Program removed those barriers for its ten pilot participants, some of whom are already planning to have the project completed with the help of resources from NeighborWorks® Rochester and from our partner, Canandaigua National Bank, both of whom are offering special funding exclusively for the Triangle in support of the project. NeighborWorks Rochester is excited about the possibility that this pilot can be replicated in other neighborhoods, making homes more suitable and desirable for families and providing stability in city neighborhoods.

 

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Investing in The Triangle through Leadership Training

Part of NeighborWorks® Rochester’s Healthy Blocks program is investing in resident leaders who can work to transform their community from the inside-out. As part of this goal, every year we sponsor a team of residents and City stakeholders to attend NeighborWorks® America’s Community Leadership Institute (CLI), a three-day event focused on training emerging leaders in skills for community organizing and neighborhood revitalization. This year’s attendees were Triangle residents Mikey Rodriguez, Julie Boswell, and Lorna Wright. Stakeholder attendees were: Baye Muhammad, the City’s Commissioner for Neighborhood and Business Development, LaShunda Leslie-Smith from Connected Communities, and Maureen Duggan from Rochester’s Community Design Center.

During the training, attendees took classes on building on community assets, organizing volunteers, marketing your neighborhood, sharing your success stories with the media, and other critical topics taught by experienced and knowledgeable faculty from all over the country. They also had to opportunity to share stories and ideas with other groups. In total, 110 teams from the nation – over 1000 participants – attended the event.

As a follow-up to the CLI, NeighborWorks® America provides a small grant opportunity to each team to put a resident-driven community project into action. This year’s team has chosen to pursue painting a community mural on Culver Road, the main gateway street for both The Triangle and Beechwood neighborhoods. The mural will bring the community together, both by addressing residents’ concerns about the street-facing facades of Culver Road commercial spaces and by adding unique and recognizable place-making elements to the The Triangle. Congratulations to all the attendees!