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Southwest Corridor Inclusive Communities

Developed an area plan and design recommendations for the future West Portland Town Center light rail station based on a comprehensive heath equity assessment.

The Southwest Corridor Inclusive Communities project has a significant opportunity to positively influence health equity in conjunction with the planned light rail and station area planning through pursuing the overarching project goals of fostering strong people and communities and building great places with access to all. The Mithun teamanalyzed 20 key health equity indicators which we determined, with the Portland Bureau of Sustainability, had the greatest ability to affect change in health outcomes across the social determinants of health; health services access, education, social cohesion and capital, healthy secure housing, economic opportunity and security, food access, environmental health, transportation connectivity, and physical activity.
To improve health equity opportunities through Station Area Planning and during improvements related to the new light rail, campaigns were created that bundle evidence-based strategies into action areas for the City, partners, and community organizations to engage. Long term, these investments can increase healthy behaviors, and help to move the needle on health outcomes:
Mission: Reduce chronic stressors of noise and air pollution exacerbated by the highway.
Theory of Change: Implement urban design strategies which limit exposure to air pollution and reduce a person’s risk of developing lung cancer, asthma, and cardiovascular disease. Construct roadside vegetation barriers to filter air pollutants and act as a ‘Green Lung’, and increase access to nature. Vegetation and manmade acoustical barriers can also help reduce noise pollution. Closing off ramps will limit the intrusion of pollutants into the WPTC area. Site level interventions can limit residents’ exposure to poor air quality and noise. Locate public parks and greenspaces in areas buffered from the freeway by natural or manmade barriers, and place building ventilation air intakes in protected areas.

Mission: Increase access to education for all life stages; open job training and career pathways to the region’s increasingly diverse residents; support small businesses and entrepreneurship; improve financial literacy. Reduce residential and business displacement.
Theory of change: Explore programs for reducing residential and business displacement risk. Provide small business and entrepreneurship support to help households generate secure income. Income is one of the strongest and most consistent predictors of health and disease. Connecting to educational and training opportunities can improve access to opportunity and quality of life. Ensure options are culturally relevant (e.g. facilitate access to shariah approved loans). Through prioritizing resident businesses, culturally-relevant food choices, art, and community-building events, WPTC can promote inclusivity and fight displacement. Support for diverse housing types at all levels of affordability and family sizes can reduce residential displacement risk.

Mission: Create indoor and outdoor places that reduce health hazards and promote health and comfort; encourage everyday physical activity; access to healthy foods and beverages; access to quality pedestrian and bike infrastructure provides opportunities for exercise as well as connections to transit.
Theory of Change: A healthy body weight and physical fitness can reduce heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and stress – leading to improved life expectancy and quality of life.

Mission: Use the new infrastructure investments in the light rail station to connect communities divided by freeway; design gathering spaces and programs that support socioeconomic mixing.
Theory of Change: Gathering spaces and activities which give people opportunities to mix and partake in meaningful activities together make them more likely to develop a sense of trust and connection known as social cohesion. Social cohesion reduces morbidity, increases community resilience, and can increase economic opportunities for individuals as well as broader metro areas.

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