New program to improve health in low-income neighborhoods

Published on May 25, 2016

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A partnership of the City of Iowa City, the University of Iowa, and local community development officials has been selected to take part in Invest Health, a new national program aimed at transforming how leaders from mid-size American cities work together to help low-income communities improve health by addressing the conditions that drive health, including access to safe and affordable housing, places to play and exercise, and quality jobs. Iowa City was selected as one of 50 mid-sized cities, from more than 180 teams from 170 communities across the nation that applied to the initiative.

The Iowa City team, comprised of representatives from the University of Iowa Colleges of Medicine and Public Health, the Housing Fellowship, the City of Iowa City, and Iowa City’s City Council, was selected for the program by Reinvestment Fund and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The team will receive a grant of $60,000 to reduce disparities in asthma, depression and behavioral health concerns in children and adults living in low-income households.

“This project brings together local partners who are critical to improving health among some of the most vulnerable members of our community,” says Sue Curry, dean of the UI College of Public Health. “This is an extraordinary opportunity not only to make a positive impact in Iowa City, but to learn from other national leaders who are developing innovative strategies to improve community health so successful approaches can be applied elsewhere in Iowa and across the nation.”

Iowa City’s projects will explore a broad range of ideas including reviewing financial incentives to support new affordable housing projects, developing peer support programs, and expanding existing community efforts such as the Frequent User Service Enhancement (FUSE) project, which aims to reduce public costs by stabilizing chronically homeless individuals. Project teams from across the United States will travel to Philadelphia for a kick-off meeting on June 7 and will meet regularly to share what they’ve learned throughout the 18-month project. The information will also be made available on the project’s website at www.investhealth.org. Project teams will also engage a broader group of local stakeholders to share knowledge and expertise.

“Public officials, community developers, and many others have been working in low-income neighborhoods for years, but they haven’t always worked together,” said Donald Schwarz, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Vice President, Program. “Invest Health aims to align their work and help neighborhoods thrive by intentionally incorporating health into community development.”

Iowa City Invest Health Team Members

  • Maryann Dennis, Executive Director, The Housing Fellowship
  • Kathryn Dorsey, Program Manager, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine
  • Tracy Hightshoe, Neighborhood Coordinator, City of Iowa City
  • Vickie Miene, Deputy Director of the Institute of Public Health Research and Policy, University of Iowa College of Public Health
  • Pauline Taylor, Council Member, City of Iowa City

For more information, contact Tracy Hightshoe, City of Iowa City Neighborhood Services Coordinator, at tracy-hightshoe@iowa-city.org or 319-356-5244.