Social Impact Investing for Health

Existing research suggests that transit-oriented development (TOD) may have the potential to improve social, environmental, and health outcomes at the population level. The Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) and other partners are currently creating a $30 million private equity fund (the Healthy Neighborhoods Equity Fund) that will invest in high impact, mixed use TOD real estate projects that have the potential to transform neighborhoods, strengthen community and promote equity across Massachusetts. With the goal of better understanding the relationship between the built environment and health, CLF will launch a prospective, longitudinal study to examine the effects of TOD investments on neighborhood conditions, residents and their health. The Healthy Neighborhoods Equity Fund uses a “Quadruple Bottom Line” that considers community, environmental, and health impacts in addition to financial returns to select and evaluate projects. The Fund is designed to attract new sources of private equity to support healthy community development and leverage other sources of private and public funding to catalyze high‐impact projects along key transportation corridors. We will study three intervention and up to six matched control communities over time to understand how mixed-use, mixed-income TOD affects neighborhood conditions, and ultimately residents' health behaviors and outcomes. This mixed-methods longitudinal study will help clarify the role of social impact investing in creating healthier neighborhoods and provide important insights about the connection between the built environment and health.