NeighborWorks America and its evaluation resource group, Success Measures, are making strides at the important nexus of the community development and health fields. In the November issue of Health Affairs, co-authors Joseph Schuchter, DrPH, MCP and Douglas P. Jutte, MD, MPH, focus on the overlapping impacts of community development and health, and the challenges of identifying appropriate ways to measure them. In “A Framework to Extend Community Development Measurement to Health and Well-Being”, Schuchter and Jutte consider Success Measures’ more than 250 measurement tools and its specialized web-based data system as valuable resources in bridging this gap. Specific metrics in the Success Measure toolkit for community development practitioners, including personal effectiveness and stability, as well as personal and social networks, are highlighted as having direct connections to health impacts.
Looking to develop measures that more explicitly link a wide range of affordable housing and community revitalization programs to potential health outcomes, Success Measures has recently launched a new initiative. Following a year of research and development, Success Measures convened an expert working group in September, hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, to review and provide input for an outcome framework which would assist housing and community development practitioners evaluate the health-related outcomes of their programs. The 25-member advisory group is made up of practitioners, policy experts, and funders from the community development, housing, and health fields – including public health, hospitals, health insurance, and community healthcare clinics. Next steps for this initiative will include the public release of the framework and the development of accessible, culturally relevant data collection tools that will track outcomes related to community development and health.