In partnership with New Jersey Future and the College of New Jersey, the Planning Healthy Communities Initiative is leading an HIA project in Little Egg Harbor, Ocean County, New Jersey as part of the Pew Post-Sandy project funded by the Health Impact Collaborative. The project team is conducting an HIA on voluntary buy-out scenarios for properties in Mystic Island, a flood prone neighborhood.
The HIA is a helpful lens through which to evaluate the full range of impacts of buyouts on the human health (physical and mental) and social and economic vulnerabilities of a lower-income population, as well as on the community’s fiscal health. The outcomes of the HIA will have benefit to similar decision-making in other communities in New Jersey and the U.S. that are plagued by chronic and storm-related flooding.
Major tasks of the project include:
- Collect and analyze baseline socioeconomic, property-based and health information
- Connect social, physical and economic health determinants associated with the decision with intermediate and direct health outcomes
- Use scientific literature, quantitative methods and stakeholder input (survey and focus group) to develop projections about the anticipated community health impacts of the program decision, according to their direction, likelihood, magnitude and distribution in the population
- Develop and provide recommendations focused on maximizing positive health outcomes and mitigating negative outcomes, which will inform the governing body of the Township
- Develop an outcome evaluation and monitoring plan to recommend procedures and indicators to assess changes in health status and health determinants as and after the decision is implemented
- Engage the community through a local steering committee, interviews, focus groups and a survey
- Clearly identify all assumptions and limitations of the data used to support the assessment
Specifically, the analysis focuses on the health impacts of a voluntary buyout program related to:
- Reduction of flooding (storm events and routine flooding)
- Increased open space
- Household finances
- Municipal fiscal impacts
- Social fabric and cohesion
A final report will be issued in early spring of 2016.