31 August 2012

Parallel Session 2: Role of HIA in the Environmental Review Process: tool for community engagement and agency engagement in decision making

Baltimore Washington Rail Intermodal Facility HIA:

Lessons learned in capacity building and community participation

Ruth Lindberg, Program Manager, National Center for Healthy Housing, USA

 

Project Context:

  • Panama Canal Authority widening canal
  • ...
Intermodal facility:

  • Allow double stacked containers with the aim of moving more goods by rail than road
 

Community context

  • 4 proposed candidate sites, do nothing option and potentially another additional candidate sites
  • Two sites - rural area, small town, sense of community, peacefulness, people try to support each other
  • One rural area had 11 correctional community and a waste treatment facility.
 

Key health topics:

  • Air quality
  • Noise
  • Employment
  • Neighbourhood resources
  • Water quality
 

 

  • Key issue was health equity and how do you avoid burden already vulnerable communities.
  • Communities have been pitted against each oth with each saying that the other communities are likely to be better places to put the facility.
  • A lot of community distrust, don't feel they are getting truthful responses from government, don't feel involved in the process.
 

 

Policy Context

  • 4 key agency decision-makers
  • Voluntary or Regulatory as part of EIA
  • NEPA has a health reference but found decision-makers say that it is already being coved or that health is not part of the Act and hence not needed.
  • Asked to do an integrated EIA and HIA but this was not taken up by decision-makers
  • We conducted HIA separately from the EIA
 

Challenges of engaging agency officials in HIA

  • No funding
  • No legislative authority
  • No capacity
 

 

  • Positive - We were in control of the HIA and the data that was used.
  • Negative - that it might be disregarded and not seen as part of the process.
  • Community still distrustful of using data from government agencies
 

Approaches used to engage:

  • Training
  • Community forums
  • Media outreach
  • Use existing meetings on other issues
  • Engaged local leaders
  • Legislators
  • Meetings set up out of work hours
 

Lessons learned

  • Set and maintain realistic expectations of HIA influence
  • Transparency is critical
  • Budget time and resources for engagement
  • Engage early and often
  • Be prepared for unexpected challenges and setbacks
  • Policy change, rumours, lack of information



Lake Merritt HIA

Pilar Lorenzana-Campo, Program Director, Change Lab Solutions, Oakland, California, USA

Public health people, planners and lawyers

 

  • Funded by federal transport agency and this for increasing community participation not to do a HIA
  • HIA was used as an approach to engaging community
  • Had Health Impact Partners, Environmental Justice and oth advocacy and community groups.


Challenges:

  • Too many priorities - many community needs, access for transportation, affordable housing, jobs and services, parks and recreation and public safety.
  • Had to deal with funding and timeline constraints.


Overcoming:

  • We did not collect any data ourselves but got data from other agencies, but that meant that some things we could not analyse because we did not have that data.
  • Used strength of relationship between aspects and health to filter and prioritise issues.
  • We developed a clear policy target - affordable housing
Affordable housing strategies:

  • Ensure that existing regional target is maintained 30% affordable.
  • Plan and develop family housing
  • Provide a development incentive to build affordable housing
Challenges:

  • Push back from decision-makers, but was mitigated by us identifying the positive impacts of the project.
  • Congratulating them on the positives helped to develop trust and an improved relationship.
  • Decision-makers came back and asked to look at other documents and had opportunity to provide input into developing policies.

Good stuff
  • Building capacity around health and built environment
  • A new dynamic in the conversation
  • Incorporation of some recommendations into draft plan
  • Use of HIA in other projects
 

 

Q&A

Q: How did you Do the health assessment on affordable housing?

A: Tried to see where the affordable housing Was and what type of affordable housing there was - restricted and unrestricted, a lot more unrestricted, these units were at risk, this had an implication of forcing people to move. Current incentives are only for 12% rather than the target of 30%, an example is building height by allowing higher levels in return for affordable housing.

 

Q: how do you use HIA without using HIA?

A: in the intermodal facility how did you get funding to do it, we applied for funding through Health Impact Project, Pew Charitable Trust, had strong relationships with local partners. Ho

E that this will be a successful project for how the Transportation Department in terms of engaging communities.

 

Q: There is an equity in relation to the 4 sites you mentioned for the intermodal facility? How can you justify siting for example the community with all the correctional facilities?

A: Still struggling with this issue, I don't think we will be recommending any one site, we hope to provide the positives and negatives in each area and to inform decision-makers who will make the decision. Interesting that the site being dismissed has a lot of greenery while the site added had a lot of negative health indicators probably because more concerns expressed and more vocal local politician in the site that was being dismissed.