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Application of the Health Impact Assessment to Expand Public Transportation and Access to Employment for Underserved Residents of Boone County

 

Lead Organization: PedNet Coalition

Key Partners: Missouri Foundation for Health, , Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services, Central Missouri Community Action, Columbia Transit, Columbia Housing Authority

Project Location: Columbia/Boone County, Mo.

Contacts: Annette Triplet, MS, Executive Director, PedNet Coalition, annette@pednet.org, 573-999-9894 

Project Description

People who have jobs tend to be healthier—now and later in life—than people who are unemployed. Researchers believe that this relationship is tied, at least in part, to the fact that people who are employed have access to resources, such as health insurance - that can help them maintain better health. Not everyone has the same access to jobs. Without transportation, it is almost impossible for workers to get or keep jobs, let alone access social and health services. PedNet, a coalition of community members, business representatives, schools and agencies seeking to increase active living in Columbia, MO, are using a tool called a health impact assessment (HIA) to demonstrate to decision makers the connection between expanded public transit options, employment and health. 

This project will complement and build upon an ongoing campaign that PedNet and its partners have undertaken to triple public transportation services in Columbia by 2014. As the group is working on its HIA to make the case that increased public transit is good for health, they will be advocating for changes to the existing transit system in Columbia, such as the creation of a transit authority with a dedicated tax base and increasing the reach, hours of service, and frequency of the region’s public transportation system. 

In addition to completing its HIA on transportation and health, the project team is educating local public health professionals, policymakers, community members, and the media about the utility of HIA as a decision-making tool, ultimately seeking to convince the city to adopt an HIA policy for future high-level policy decisions.  

The Missouri Foundation for Health and several private donors have committed to a total cash match of $100,000 for this project. 

Why this work is important:

  • People who have jobs tend to be healthier—now and later in life—than people who are unemployed.

  • Not everyone has the same access to jobs. Without transportation, it is almost impossible for workers to get or keep jobs, let alone access social and health services.

  • Researchers believe that the employed are healthier than the unemployed, at least in part, because they have access to resources, such as health insurance, that can help them maintain better health.

Relevant Information from the 2014 County Health Rankings:

  • Boone County ranked 8th out of 115 counties overall, but 4th in health behaviors, 5th in social and economic factors, and 66th in the physical environment.
  • Seventy-eight percent of county residents drive to work alone compared to 71 percent of residents living in top U.S. performing counties.
  • The county’s unemployment rate is lower than the state’s unemployment rate—under 5 percent compared to almost 7 percent respectively.

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