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The Power for Change: Energy Policy and Racial Equity

Home energy use echoes the disparities caused by racism. Despite the semblance of uniform utility rates and ubiquitous service, the negative outcomes of power shut-offs and cost burdens and the positive benefits of weatherization, retrofits, and renewable energy are not evenly distributed. Yet, efforts to address energy poverty and diffuse improvements are largely race-neutral. They are based on little rigorous evidence of their effectiveness or effects by race, and they do not account for how they may be inaccessible to households of color.  

This study develops a national picture of home energy policies and programs, examines differences in receipt for three energy service cases, and explores barriers for households of color. Along with presenting the first cross-case comparison in the scholarly field, the research team hopes to inform discussions of improvements in energy providers' programming and prompt conversations around energy as another source of racial disparity. 


Shaping Healthier Housing for Low-Income and Vulnerable Populations

The built environment and housing have pronounced effects on community health. This study will look at the reach of Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) programs and their potential to produce healthier rental housing that serves low-income and vulnerable populations. The research will focus on four research questions:

  1. What occupant health-related built environment (OHBE) factors do states' Housing Finance Agencies (HFA) include to assess and award LIHTC funding?
  2. How do HFAs ensure compliance with promised OHBE practices once a project has received funding?
  3. What barriers exist to implementing OHBE in the LIHTC process and housing stock?
  4. How can states replicate effective practices in developing OHBE factors, incorporating them into policy, and ensuring implementation?

This research represents a rich opportunity for comprehensive evaluation of how states incentivize and incorporate OHBE factors in the LIHTC process, and opportunities for expansion.

Date Funded

Understanding Community and Health Impacts of Complete Streets Policies

Springfield, Massachusetts is a mid-sized city with a large community of color population experiencing socioeconomic and health inequities. Historically there has been little infrastructure in Springfield to support active transportation and recreational walking and biking, so in 2015, Springfield City Council adopted a city-wide “Complete Streets” resolution.

“Complete Streets” policies enable safe access for pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, and motorists of all ages and abilities, yet little empirical evidence has documented their impact on the community and health and well-being.

This study will investigate, through an equity lens, whether Complete Streets policies lead to changes in:

  • The built environment (e.g. traffic calming; bicycle/pedestrian facilities),
  • The economic environment (e.g. retail activity),
  • The social environment (e.g. perceived safety, social cohesion), and
  • Health/health behaviors (e.g. physical activity).

The study will use existing and original data, including objectively measured physical activity. Research will be conducted in partnership with community partners to leverage collective expertise and existing data collection efforts, to engage residents as research partners, and ensure results and research products are designed and disseminated to benefit the community and foster health equity. Resident perception of the policy and infrastructure changes will also be assessed.

Complete Streets policies have the potential to impact equity by creating activity-friendly environments in communities experiencing large social, economic, and health inequities. This study seeks to determine if the policies can and do achieve that potential.

Date Funded

How We Get Around: The Impact of Transportation on Health

While transportation planning has not traditionally been linked to health, it affects health in various ways. This project has three parts: In the first study, the researchers will study how changes in the location of health services are impacted by transportation access, using the NYU Rudin Center data on commuting paired with Medicaid data. By examining hospital closures in NYC and how people in different areas of the city commute, the researchers can more closely link transit modalities patterns and access to care.

The second study will assess the impact of a recent speed limit reduction on health outcomes. The study will link speed limit data to hospitalizations (using the state-wide inpatient database) and to clinic and other visits for Medicaid patients.

Third, the researchers will consider a pilot study to assess the impact on health of bicycle commuting through NYC’s Citibike program. Using the NYU Rudin Center’s research on Citibike, they will link employer household data of residents who have gained most from the Citibike program to health outcomes, and compare that to neighborhoods that did not benefit as much from Citibike.

Date Funded