How Do Neighborhood Conditions Shape Health? An excerpt from Making the Case for Linking Community Development and Health

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It has been said that your ZIP code may be more important for your health than your genetic code. This is because factors known as the social determinants of health (such as housing, education, job opportunities, child care, and transportation) can greatly influence your chances of becoming sick and dying early. Your address reflects the daily living conditions that can create—or limit your opportunities to be healthy. This report is intended to be a resource for those working to improve low-income communities and the lives of the people living in them.

While the connections between poverty and poor health have long been recognized, a new but growing movement is tackling these issues in innovative ways by connecting two sectors—community development and health—that have previously worked in relative isolation from each other. For decades, diverse organizations within the community development sector have worked to improve the physical and economic infrastructure of low-income neighborhoods—with a focus on improving places. And, for over a century, public health and medical care institutions serving poor communities have worked to improve the health of socially disadvantaged groups—with a focus on the people who live in low-income neighborhoods.


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HVCCW is a diverse group of community based organizations united to address the social determinants of health through capacity building and collective action.

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