A Health Impact Assessment of Transit-Oriented Development at the Quitman Light Rail Station in Houston Texas
5 minutes Date Enacted: Jun 1, 2012
This study uses a specialized tool, a health impact assessment, or HIA, to evaluate the health impacts of transit-oriented development (TOD) in a neighborhood surrounding a soon-to-be-completed light rail station in Houston, Texas. The station we chose for this pilot assessment is the Quitman station, which is located just north of downtown Houston, at the intersection of Quitman and North Main streets, in a predominately low-income Latino neighborhood called Northside Village. We used the HIA process, which is described in detail in the full report, to assess key health-related TOD indicators: walkability, affordable housing, parks and trails, and mixed-use development contained in four redevelopment initiatives that have been advanced by different stakeholders for this community. The preliminary findings of our HIA are that a more vigorously health-driven composite TOD initiative would have a positive impact on health not only by preventing or slowing the onset of preventable diseases such as obesity and heart disease, but also by positively affecting factors such as health- related costs, access to health care, opportunities for education and employment, and crime that are integrally related to health status. Our study, which is driven by new and existing data collected especially for this assessment, also suggests that the HIA process itself is a potentially useful tool to help prioritize the recommendations of various initiatives in order to use scarce resources most effectively to maximize the long-term health and vitality of a community.