13 February 2014

When is an HIA not an HIA?


Guest post from Karen Bauer from the Denver HIA Collaborative:

Yesterday I attended a seminar given by the Denver Regional Council of Governments entitled Prescription for a Healthy Community.  The main speakers were the Colorado Health Foundation and Urban Land Institute.  To give you some idea of the influence that these organizations have, consider that the Colorado Health Foundation is the third largest health-focused foundation in the country, with $2.2 billion in assets, and ULI is a worldwide nonprofit representing land use and real estate development.  Its membership dues are $1200 annually.    
In 2013 ULI announced that their new initiative would be building healthy places.  Along with $4.5 million funding from the Colorado Health Foundation, they chose three locations in Colorado to receive the ULI treatment.  That means that ULI developed a TAP (technical advisory panel) that spent one week in each community to meet with stakeholders.  During that week they developed a report of opportunities and recommendations, which was then presented to the community. (I requested to see these reports, as they are not online).  After that, the community has the opportunity to apply for up to $1 million from the Foundation to implement their plans. 
I took a look at the ULI website to learn more about their initiative.  You can see that they are working completely outside of the world of HIA and its years of research, capacity building and expertise.  
A number of questions come to mind:
  1. Does the HIA community need to do more to gain recognition as the go-to organization for research, tools, assessments?
  2. Should we need a certification to go into a community to do a health assessment?
  3. Does this help or hurt our field?
  4. Maybe HIA has it wrong.  Is there something to be said for a one-week process? 
I would like to hear your comments, questions, concerns about this topic.