The Detroit URC: fostering health equity through 
community-based participatory research (CBPR)
for more than 20 years

Detroit Health Impact Assessment


This partnership between community members and academic researchers conducted a health impact assessment (HIA), which brought together stakeholder input, scientific data, and public health expertise to inform decisions of Detroit Future City (DFC). DFC is a strategic framework to guide the regeneration of Detroit.

A key strategy of DFC is to target city service and infrastructure investments—such as water systems, street lighting, roads, and blight removal—toward more populated parts of the city, and to reduce repairs and maintenance in higher vacancy areas. While greater investments may stabilize more populated neighborhoods and improve safety, further disinvestment in less populated neighborhoods may increase their exposure to stress, isolation and environmental hazards which contribute to poor health.

To address this concern, D-HIA examined the framework’s potential impact on high vacancy neighborhoods and the 90,000 people who live there, through changes in:

  • Neighborhood Stability and Integrity of the social fabric and related built environment, including social networks, proximity of neighbors, and social cohesion.
  • Neighborhood Safety, such as vacancy, blight, and crime.
  • Environmental Conditions related to housing and contamination of air, soil, and water.
  • Displacement, Relocation, and Gentrification on those who move or stay.

Potential health impacts include heart disease, violence, asthma, lead poisoning, cancer, homelessness, and mental health. Both beneficial and detrimental effects were identified, as well as impacts on vulnerable groups and equity.

The full HIA Report describes the objectives and methods used to carry out the HIA, current health and neighborhood data, key findings, and recommendations for protecting health of neighborhoods and the people who live there.  The HIA provides health data to inform DFC and other regeneration planning efforts. It also considers lessons learned for integrating health and equity into planning for revitalizing shrinking cities.

The D-HIA partnership continues to work with a broad range of groups to implement the HIA recommendations, strengthen cross-sectoral relationships, and enhance capacity of community, city officials, public health, and others to consider health and equity in planning decisions. 

D-HIA Reports: 


For more information, please contact Chris Coombe (734) 763-9236 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Also, for additional related resources , visit our Health Impact Assessment Resources page. 

*This project was supported by a grant from the Health Impact Project, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts, and by a grant from the University of Michigan Center for Advancing Research and Solutions for Society (CARSS).


The Detroit Community-Academic Urban Research Center
University of Michigan School of Public Health (U-M SPH)
1415 Washington Heights
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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