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Healthy Built Environment

Our healthy built environment work brings about real change in the well-being of low-income, Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) who suffer disproportionately adverse health outcomes because of historic disinvestment in their neighborhoods. Recognizing that community health and well-being require physical infrastructure and resources, we prioritize investments in the built environment and land use, including parks, green spaces, and transportation. Our built environment work includes advocating for community-based investments to support communities on the front lines of climate injustices. This change comes by ensuring public decision-making around neighborhood design and community investments support and enable thriving communities via grassroots, data-driven advocacy campaigns. Because the built environment plays a critical role in violence prevention and the perception of safety, our scope includes targeting built environment investments to advance public safety and justice reinvestment goals. 

In Los Angeles County, the Central Valley, and Inland Empire, we’re working with advocates who are pushing for more significant investment in parks, high-quality and healthy housing, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, public transportation, climate-related solutions, and other critical community infrastructures while advocating for shifts in investments away from suppression and criminalization. 

We provide campaign support through data, policy and budget research tools, and budget trainings to support communities in measuring the economic, social, and racial impacts of infrastructure investments to create a healthier and more sustainable future. By analyzing which communities have benefited from public investment in the past, and identifying new funding streams and opportunities to support more significant investment, we’ve supported advocacy that’s led to dedicated increases in park funding for high-need communities, policies that ensure transit investments benefit low-income renters, and funding for critical land use planning, housing code enforcement, and more.

Where We Work

  • Park Equity – Our research has found that decades of racialized disinvestment have made communities of color some of the park-poorest in L.A. County. In 2018 and 2019, we worked closely with the Los Angeles Park Equity Alliance, a coalition of park equity groups, environmental justice groups, and public health leaders to ensure that Measure A, Los Angeles County’s parcel tax to support park acquisition and development, maximizes funding to eliminate racial disparities in park access, strengthens technical assistance for High and Very High need communities, and includes safeguards against displacement. In early 2019, the Board of Supervisors adopted an implementation plan that makes Measure A a nation-leading policy in park equity. 
  • Transportation Equity – As a member of the Alliance for Community Transit-Los Angeles, we work alongside active transportation advocates, tenants’ rights groups, and affordable housing developers to ensure that low-income residents of color directly benefit from LA Metro policies and long-range investments. In 2018, our coalition won the adoption of a Transit Oriented Communities policy that will help create affordable housing and avoid displacement around transit investments in the County. In 2020, our collective efforts led to the creation of the first-ever Public Safety Advisory Committee at the LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which brings together transit riders and advocates to guide non-law enforcement safety improvements and recommend care-based investments to create positive & dignified rider experiences. 

We have worked with community partners including Leadership Council and the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment to support their efforts to increase infrastructure investments for water projects, street improvements, and park maintenance in the County’s unincorporated communities. We have also conducted policy and budget analysis to support their advocacy to make sure the County’s General Plan Update ensures future developments are in line with the needs and values of low-income communities of color. In 2019, we supported the launch of the People’s Budget Bakersfield, a Black-led and Black-centered participatory budgeting effort to defund law enforcement and reinvest those dollars into supportive services for heavily-policed communities.

We support the advocacy of Fresno Building Healthy Communities to secure equitable park investments through the implementation of Measure P, a voter-initiated sales tax measure approved by a majority of residents in 2018, that is slated to generate hundreds of millions over 30 years for park maintenance, improvement and recreation services.  

Regional and Statewide Work: Climate Justice

We partner with Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) organizers and community members in the Inland Empire & Central Valley and support their efforts to address disparities in access to climate infrastructure investments. Our recent research efforts have helped us better understand the problems, causes, and possible interventions to secure federal and state infrastructure funding for community-led climate projects that advance racial and climate equity. These findings will help inform future policy and climate-campaign advocacy work to win infrastructure investments and build BIPOC power.