About the Healthy Communities Transformation Initiative (HCTI)

The Healthy Communities Transformation Initiative (HCTI), developed by HUD’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes (OLHCHH), was created to help improve the health systems and the physical, social, and economic service structures that support healthy living and healthy behaviors in our communities.

Across the country, communities are trying to promote sustainable and healthy neighborhoods to improve the well-being of residents. But what determines whether or not a community is healthy? Is it the number of people with disease? Or is it factors such as parks and schools, housing, access to retail,services, and transportation, or the condition of the surrounding environment? Identifying the right indicators to track and evaluate the health of our neighborhoods can be daunting because there are very few reliable, standard measures that look at the range of physical and social factors that impact neighborhood health. As more communities take on the challenge of integrating health into community planning and development, there is an increasing need for a standard set of neighborhood-level indicators to help identify baseline conditions, prioritize investments, and evaluate progress towards community health goals.

The HCTI offers two innovate tools: the Healthy Communities Index (HCI) and the Healthy Communities Assessment Tool (HCAT), to help cities assess the physical, social, and economic roots of health of their communities. The tools provide a standard, comprehensive, and practical approach to measuring the most important determinants of health at the neighborhood level. Understanding and tracking these measures can help cities determine the range of policies and programs necessary to help improve community health and residents' quality of life.

The main objective of the HCTI is to create a unified national effort that:
  • Defines neighborhood criteria and measurements of community health;
  • Supports healthy communities research; and
  • Showcases promising best practices for healthy communities.

Healthy Communities Index (HCI)

HUD created the HCI to respond to the lack of uniform, evidence-based community health indicators that many cities encountered when they attempted to evaluate the health and well-being of their community. HCI indicators measure the social, economic, and physical factors that impact community health. Using the World Health Organization (WHO) definition of health, the HCI was developed to measure “community” health versus “individual” health and its indicators represent neighborhood-level health versus individual-level health.

The HCI framework defines what constitutes a healthy community along with the range of neighborhood-level conditions that support human development and health outcomes. The framework established ten categories or “domains” that broadly represent the various sectors that influence the health of a community, including: Economic Health, Educational Opportunities, Employment Opportunities, Environmental Hazards, Housing, Natural Areas, Neighborhood Characteristics, Health Systems and Public Safety, Social Cohesion, and Transportation. Although indicators within the HCI are assigned to a specific primary domain, the most robust indicators actually cross domains. Primary as well as any secondary domains are identified in the HCAT for each indicator.

Created with input from a National Advisory Panel (NAP) of experts from disciplines related to community development and health, HUD and the NAP used a rigorous evaluation process to select indicators for the HCI: they reviewed each indicator according to the availability of data to measure it at the neighborhood level; how strong its connection was to health; and whether it has an established relationship to national public health objectives. Every HCI indicator was also evaluated for its ability to be easily understood, relevance to communities of different sizes, and power to motivate and create policy and program change. A robust and evidence-based national standard, communities can use the HCI as a starting point to identify and prioritize community health issues and monitor changes over time. Read more about the framework and assumptions used to determine HCI indicators.

Healthy Communities Assessment Tool (HCAT)

The HCAT was developed as a complimentary tool to the HCI to illustrate which factors impact a neighborhood’s health and help cities engage community stakeholders in community health issues. Using a cumulative ranking of HCI core indicators, the HCAT provides a single measure that shows how neighborhoods compare to one another and how indicators influence the rankings. The HCAT further provides the values and rankings of individual HCI indicators to help cities and neighborhood stakeholders identify which measures should be addressed to improve the overall neighborhood ranking. Learn more about the HCAT.

Healthy Communities Glossary

Access to OpportunityThe availability, without regard to race, socio-economic status, age or gender, of community services, housing, employment, healthy food, amenities, information, and institutions that support full realization of human potential.
Active Living Community (ALC)A community designed to encourage residents to engage in physical activities during their daily routines by making destinations easily accessible via biking, walking and/or good transit access.
Active TransportationAny type of self-propelled mode of transportation, such as walking or bicycling.
Acute IllnessAn ailment, such as a cold, cough or insomnia, which will generally resolve itself without medical intervention or management, and often can be treated with over-the-counter drugs.
Age-AdjustedThe weighted average of an age-specific population based on proportions in the overall population. Age-adjusted rates allow for comparison of groups with different age distributions and is generally applied to rates of disease, death, injuries or other health outcomes so that communities with differing age compositions can be compared.
Ambulatory Care Sensitive Conditions (ACSC)A broad range of illnesses routinely identified in hospital discharge data which could be monitored to potentially avoid the need for later hospitalization or for which early intervention could prevent complications or more severe disease. ACSCs are often associated with a population's access to quality outpatient care.
American Community Survey (ACS)An annual nationwide survey conducted by the Census Bureau that collects household information, similar to the long-form questionnaire used in the decennial census, from a small sample of the population. Annual estimates of demographic, social, economic, and housing characteristics are available for geographic areas with a population of 65,000 or more. ACS data are updated annually as well as produced on a three- and five-year rolling average basis for small geographic areas; online access to ACS data is available via the American Fact Finder.
American Housing Survey (AHS)A comprehensive biennial housing survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau and HUD. The AHS is particularly useful for analyzing households and housing over time as the same housing units are surveyed. A new sample of units will be drawn for the 2015 AHS.
Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT)A measure of how busy a roadway is, calculated by dividing the total volume of vehicle traffic of the highway or road for a year by 365 days.
Area Median Income (AMI)Midpoint in the distribution of family incomes within a metropolitan statistical area or non-metro parts of a state. HUD uses HUD-Adjusted Median Family Income (HAMFI) to calculate income eligibility limits for a variety of housing programs.
BaselineA measured value, determined at the start of an intervention, which is used as the basis for evaluating change.
Body Mass Index (BMI)A metric used to evaluate body fat based on a person's weight and height. BMI is often used to screen for weight issues that may lead to health problems.
Brownfields SiteLand once used for industrial or commercial purposes that may be contaminated with low concentrations of hazardous waste or pollution with the potential for reuse once the contaminants are removed.
Buffer ZoneA specified perimeter of land designated as a neutral or restricted area.
Built EnvironmentThe composition of man-made features and infrastructure, such as roads, buildings, parks, and transportation systems, that shape the physical characteristics of a community.
Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)The agency within the U.S. Department of Labor responsible for monitoring and compiling data and statistics about labor.
Business RetentionA measure of the number of businesses maintained (i.e., preserved) year-to-year within a community.
Census BlockThe smallest geographic area for which the U.S. Census Bureau collects and tabulates decennial census data. Blocks are bound by streets, roads, railroads, streams and other bodies of water, other visible physical and cultural features, and some legal boundaries.
Census Block GroupA combination of Census blocks and a statistical subdivision of a Census tract. The block group is the lowest-level geographic entity for which the U.S. Census Bureau tabulates and publishes sample survey data. Block groups consists of all census blocks in a given census tracts whose numbers begin with the same digit.
Census TractA small, relatively permanent statistical subdivision of a county or statistically equivalent geographic entity. Census tract boundaries normally follow visible features but may also occasionally follow non-visible features and governmental boundaries. Census tracts are designed to be relatively homogeneous units with respect to population characteristics, economic status, and living conditions. They generally contain between 1,200 and 8,000 people, with an optimum size of 4,000 people. Census tracts are identified by a four-digit number, followed by an optional two-digit decimal suffix.
Centers for Disease Control and PreventionA federal agency managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that conducts and supports health promotion, prevention of disease, and preparedness activities to improve overall public health. Not to be confused with community development corporations, which also use the acronym: CDC. See U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Chronic IllnessA disease, such as diabetes, tuberculosis or cancer, which requires medical supervision and often has developed over a period of time. Medications for chronic illnesses are most often regulated as Prescription Only. Although HCI indicators do not measure the existence of chronic illnesses within a community, they are representative of measures that can impact or contribute to the incidences of chronic illnesses within a community.
Community Development Corporation (CDC)Nonprofit, community-based organizations focused on revitalizing distressed neighborhoods, i.e., typically low-income, underserved area that have undergone significant disinvestment. Not to be confused with Centers for Disease Control, which also uses the acronym: CDC.
Community HealthA public health discipline focused on the study and improvement of health characteristics within a geographic area rather than a population with shared characteristics. Community health is influenced by the built environment and an array of socio-economic and demographic characteristics.
Community Health SystemsPrograms, facilities, and interventions designed to support and improve community health.
Concentrated PovertyAn area in which an elevated proportion of persons or households are poor. Areas with concentrated poverty often limit economic potential and social cohesion, and often suffer from higher crime rates, underachieving schools, inadequate community services and job opportunities, and poor housing and health.
Community ConnectivityThe degree to which community residents feel a sense of social cohesion. An example of high community connectivity would be neighborhood with strong, active civic organizations.
Comprehensive PlanA policy document that guides long-range goals and objectives related to the planning and development of a community. It often guides capital investment decisions used in the planning process of a community’s built and natural environment.
Consumer Price Index (CPI)A measure of average change over time in prices paid by consumers for retail goods and other items, as defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Core-Based Statistical Area(CBSA)A collective term for both metropolitan (metro) and micropolitan (micro) geographical areas used for collecting, tabulating and publishing national statistics. A metro area contains a core urban area with a population of 50,000 or more; a micro area contains an urban core with a population of at least 10,000 but less than 50,000. Each area consists of one or more counties, including the county(ies) containing the core urban area, as well as any adjacent counties with a high degree of social and economic integration, as measured by commuters, with the urban core.
Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED)National nonprofit created to help expand economic opportunity for low-income families and communities. CFED promotes a range of asset building programs to reduce and eliminate poverty and produces several “scorecards” and tools to help communities measure, assess and integrate community programs to alleviate poverty. The HCI uses the “BankOn” measure developed by CFED to determine access to mainstream financial services.
CorrelateA mutual relationship or connection between variables, in which one variable may affect or depend on another. Correlations may indicate a predictive relationship, but not a causal impact.
Council of Governments (COG)A regional body serving an area with several counties/jurisdictions that address a range of issues including planning, economic and community development, hazard mitigation, water use, pollution control, and transit administration and planning.
Cumulative Neighborhood Rank (CNR)A method for aggregating multiple indicator values to compare neighborhoods within a city. The CNR is a key component of the HCI architecture.
DensityA measure of the compactness of development based on statistics such as population per acre or square mile, housing units per acre and/or businesses per square mile.
Design GuidelinesA set of principles or recommendations intended to promote development and design of the physical environment in a manner that meets specific goals.
DeterminantsFactors, circumstances and conditions that influence an outcome. The HCI is composed of social, economic, physical and environmental determinants that impact the health outcome of a community, including measures of education, income, and pollution.
DomainAn assigned field or category. HUD’s Healthy Communities Index (HCI) employs ten distinct categories to represent a variety of conditions that impact human development and health.
Early Childhood Intervention (ECI)A system of coordinated services focused on very young children (generally birth to five years) that promote healthy physical, emotional, social and intellectual development to improve outcomes for participating children and their families. Early childhood programs typically considered intervention programs target disadvantaged children who may need extra help because of factors such as living in poverty or in a single-parent household.
Economic DeterminantsFactors related to the fiscal well-being of a community and/or resident, such as income, educational attainment, and availability of community services, which influence health outcomes. See determinants.
Economic DevelopmentThe compilation of policies and programs designed to increase living standards, improve quality of life, and create more job and education opportunities to enhance community well-being.
Economic GrowthAn increase in the capacity to produce goods and services compared over time.
Educational AttainmentA measurement of the highest level of school an individual has completed or the highest credential received.
Environmental DeterminantsFactors and conditions related to the natural environment and exposure to pollution and toxins that influence the health and well-being of a community and its residents. See determinants.
Environmental HazardAny situation or event that poses a threat to the surrounding natural environment and adversely impacts people's health, causing injury, disease or even death. Environmental hazards range from toxic emissions to oils spills and trash in waterways or on highways.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)A federal agency created to protect the environment and human health by setting and enforcing national pollution-control standards. The five main objectives of the EPA include pollution prevention; risk assessment and reduction of issues that impact human health and the environment; scientific research and technology; development of regulatory standards for industrial facilities; and environmental education.
Evidence-Based Rigorous scientific research, evaluation and studies that indicate and support the effectiveness of a service, program or policy.
Financial ServicesEncompasses economic transactions provided by organizations that manage money in the finance sector including credit unions, banks, investment funds, and credit card, insurance and consumer finance companies.
Fiscal HealthThe extent to which the financial resources of a community exceed its spending obligations.
Fiscal Year (FY)An annual accounting period. The fiscal year for the federal government begins October 1 and ends September 30.
Food DesertAn area, often found in an urban neighborhoods or rural towns, with limited access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food. Access may be limited due to a lack of supermarkets, grocery stores or farmers markets and/or the area may only be served by fast food restaurants and convenience stores with few healthy, affordable food options.
General Educational Development (GED)A certification, based on a test in five subject areas, which indicates the recipient has achieved high school-level academic skills.
Geographic Information System (GIS)A computer system that integrates hardware, software, and data to capture, manage, analyze, and visually display data in the form of maps, globes, reports, and charts.
Green BuildingConstruction and development practices designed to be environmentally friendly, energy efficient and healthy. Numerous organizations such as the U.S. Green Building Council, National Association of Home Builders, and Southface Energy provide green building certifications.
Green SpaceA plot of undeveloped land covered with natural vegetation such as grass and trees, in an urban environment that is open and accessible to the public. Green space generally includes parks, community gardens, cemeteries, and may include vacant lots, playgrounds, schoolyards and public plazas (these areas also fall under “open space”).
HealthThe HCI uses the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Definition: A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. According to the WHO, the main determinants of health include the social and economic environment, the physical environment, and an individual’s unique characteristics and behaviors. See World Health Organization.
Health DeterminantFactor and conditions, such as availability of health centers and prenatal care, physical activities, and exposure to pollution, which have the capacity to influence health outcomes. See determinants.
Health DisparityA measurable gap in health status between populations based on underlying demographic characteristics, including but not limited to: age, place, race, socio-economic status, gender, and disability.
Health Impact Assessment (HIA)A method of evaluating the potential impact of a project or land use policy on public health prior to implementation. An HIA reviews and assesses evidence on the impact of a project or plan on the health of the population; considers and manages the expectations of the population most likely affected by the proposed project or policy; and recommends alternatives or changes to minimize unintended negative impact and maximize positive outcomes. By looking at policies and projects through a variety of lenses, HIAs provide the information necessary to make more informed development decisions.
Health IndicatorA quantifiable characteristic, such as life expectancy or prevalence of disease, or a determinant of health, ranging from individual behavior and socio-economic status to physical environments, which can be used to evaluate the health of a population.
Health OutcomeA measure of the health-related well-being of a community resulting from the independent or joint effect of health determinants or factors such as the built environment, socio-economic status, or financial stability.
Health Risk FactorsAttributes or characteristics that increase the likelihood of ill health or a negative health outcome. Risk factors range from behavioral, such as smoking or lack of physical activity, and environmental or biological hazards, to genetic or demographic inequities.
Health-Related Quality of Life (HRQoL)The general well-being of a community associated primarily with health outcomes of community residents.
Healthy CommunityA place for people to live characterized by a range of factors that positively impact residents' social, environmental, and economic well-being, including: access to parks and green spaces, neighborhood connections, educational and employment opportunities, adequate and affordable housing, and availability of transit services.
Healthy FoodFood that provides nutrients needed by the body to promote physical and mental well-being.
Healthy Homes Initiative (HHI)An initiative launched by HUD in 1999 to protect children and their families from housing-related health and safety hazards. Managed by the Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control (OHHLHC), the Initiative has partnered with agencies such as the USDA and created a network of state coordinators through the Healthy Homes Partnership to disseminate information about home health hazards and steps that can be taken to avoid them. Research findings are translated into standards and guidelines, and marketed to improve environmental decision-making and promote community action.
Healthy People 2020Healthy People is a set of goals and objectives established by HHS to guide national health promotion and disease prevention efforts. These goals and objectives were first established in 1979 with a 10-year target and has been updated each subsequent decade. Healthy People 2020 is meant to be a tool for strategic management by the federal government, states, communities, and many other public- and private-sector partners. It is used to measure progress for health issues in specific populations, and serves as a foundation for prevention and wellness activities across various sectors and within the federal government, as well as a model for measurement at the state and local level.
IncomeEarnings that do not include the value of benefits such as food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid, public housing, nor employer-provided fringe benefits such as 401K contributions or vacation days.
InfrastructureBasic physical and organizational services such as water and sewer lines, roads, mass transit, schools, and other public facilities needed to operate and maintain a community.
Journey to WorkCensus data that describes aspects of commuting behavior (i.e., people’s commute between home and workplace).
Location Efficiency (LE)Term used to describe compact neighborhoods where residents live in close proximity to common destinations such as grocery and other retail, day care facilities, transit and other frequently visited places and a car is not a necessity. LE recognizes that transportation costs are a significant household expense and greenhouse emissions from automobiles contribute to pollution and respiratory ailments.
Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)A federally-mandated transportation policy-making organization composed of local government representatives and transportation authorities. Congress requires the creation of an MPO for any urban area with a population greater than 50,000 people. MPOs managed all federal transportation funds allocated to the jurisdictions to ensure that distribution of the funds are coordinated and based on long-term comprehensive planning processes. Often, local Councils of Governments (COG) act as the MPO.
Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)One or more adjacent counties or county equivalents with a core urban area of a population of 50,000 or more, which are socio-economically tied to the adjacent areas by commuting workers.
Micropolitan Statistical AreasOne or more adjacent counties or county equivalents with at least one urban cluster of 10,000 residents (but less than 50,000) that are socio-economically tied to adjacent areas by commuters.
Mixed-Use DevelopmentA building or set of buildings that blends residential with commercial, cultural, and/or office space. Mixed-use development allows a greater mix of housing types and density, encourages compact development, creates location efficiency by reducing distances between housing, work and retail, and promotes pedestrian friendly environments.
National Advisory Panel (NAP)In the context of the HCTI, a group of experts in fields related to community health, including: education, public health, transportation, and housing, convened to help guide work being conducted under the Initiative. The NAP provided expert advice on proposed HCI indicators and structure, and potential applications for the HCAT.
National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS)Limits set by EPA on seven wide-spread air pollutants from numerous and diverse sources considered harmful to public health and the environment. EPA has established primary and secondary air quality standards, based on exposure (i.e., length of time and average concentration) during a specified period. Primary standards are designed to protect human health while secondary standards are targeted to protecting public welfare and cover the impact on crops, trees and buildings, from known or anticipated adverse effects of a pollutant.
National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO)A national membership organization representing local public health departments across the U.S. NACCHO members work on issues such as community health, environmental health, public health infrastructure and systems and public health preparedness.
Natural EnvironmentReference to earth’s air, water, land resources, and inhabitants versus those related to development and the built environment. The natural environment encompasses resources such as wetlands, streams, coastlines, and critical habitats.
Neighborhood RankPosition or standing of a neighborhood in relation to other neighborhoods within a city or community. HCAT neighborhood rankings are based on the cumulative rank of core HCI indicator values (i.e., contextual and demographic measures are not included in a neighborhood’s rank).
Neighborhood-Level Health IndicatorA measure of a social, economic, or environmental characteristic of a neighborhood that influences health or human development or is broadly representative of a population’s health and human development within a specific location.
Nexus to HealthA connection or series of connections linking two or more things. “Nexus to Health” is a major criterion of the HCI framework. Any indicator included in the HCI had to exhibit a clear connection and influence on community health.
Nonpoint Source (NPS)Evidence of pollution where a clear source is unidentifiable, most often caused by runoff from rain or melting snow. NPS pollution can include oil, grease and other chemicals from urban runoff, sediment from eroding stream banks or construction sites, and fertilizer or insecticides from agricultural land and residential areas. NPS pollution is one of the leading causes of water quality issues.
North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)An international coding system used to classify businesses and industries according to the type of economic activity in which they are engaged.
ObesityA label for a weight range greater than what is considered healthy based on a person’s height. Unlike being overweight, which means weighing too much, obesity indicates having too much body fat. An adult with a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese; children with a BMI at or above the 95th percentile for the same age and sex are considered obese. Obesity has been shown to increase the likelihood of disease and health problems.
Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control (OHHLHC)A unique HUD program office established to eliminate lead-based paint hazards in America's privately-owned and low-income housing, and address other housing-related health hazards that threaten vulnerable residents. OHHLHC enforces HUD’s lead-based paint regulations; provides funds to state and local governments to reduce lead-based paint hazards; and conducts technical studies to help protect children and their families from health and safety hazards in the home.
Pedestrian ConnectivityA measure for how well-connected a network of sidewalks, walkways, and paths are to common destinations such as schools, retail and businesses, within a neighborhood. Good pedestrian connectivity allows for multiple routes between destinations, and reduced travel times, as well as adequate access to transit.
Performance MeasureA metric used to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of a project, program, action or policy designed to yield a specified outcome.
Physical ActivityAny bodily movements made by skeletal muscles that require an outlay of energy. According to WHO, lack of physical activity has been identified as a leading risk factor for mortality, causing more than 3 million deaths globally. Moderately intense physical activity, including walking, biking or team sports, conducted on a regular basis has significant health benefits. See World Health Organization.
Physical DeterminantFactors and conditions such as state of a home, proximity to roadways, and access to green space that can impact the health and well-being of a community and its residents. See determinants.
Point SourceAny discrete, identifiable location from which a pollutant(s) is or may be discharged, such as smokestacks, pipes, or ditches. Two examples of point sources are factories and sewage treatment plants. See nonpoint source.
Police Accident ReportA document used to gather and record the details of a motor vehicle accident such as time, place, and chain of events. Although the phrase typically refers to reports used by local or state police in reference to vehicle crashes, it may also refer to a document used for insurance, industrial incidences, or other similar events.
PollutionA change in the physical, chemical, or biological characteristics of air, water, or soil that impacts the health, survival, or activities of the natural environment and any form of life in an unwanted way.
Preventable HospitalizationsAdmission to the hospital for an acute illness or steadily deteriorating chronic condition (e.g., diabetes) that might not have required hospitalization if the conditions had been managed successfully in an outpatient setting. Effective outpatient care helps reduce hospitalization by either preventing the onset of an illness, controlling an acute episodic illness, or managing a chronic disease or condition. See ambulatory care sensitive conditions.
Prevention Quality Indicators (PQI)A set of measures developed by HHS that, when used with hospital inpatient discharge data, can help identify quality of care for "ambulatory care sensitive conditions." Although PQIs are based on hospital inpatient data, they provide insight into the community health care system or services outside the hospital setting. PQIs can be used as a "screening tool" to flag potential health care quality problem areas; provide a quick check on primary care access or outpatient services in a community; and help stakeholders improve community health care quality.
Quality of LifeGeneral measure of well-being of an individual or community. Quality of life is determined by integrating objective and subjective life and community indicators and is most often defined in terms of health or happiness versus wealth.
Risk Screening Environmental Indicators (RSEI)A computer-based screening tool developed by EPA that analyzes risk factors that may result in chronic human health risks. RSEI combines information from the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) with estimates of toxicity and exposed populations to rank a variety of situations. The tool can sort results in a variety of ways to provide trends by chemical, industry, location, etc. The RSEI uses simplifying assumptions to fill data gaps and reduce the complexity of calculations. The RSEI is not a formal risk assessment and does not assign a specific level of risk to any particular disease; it simply highlights circumstances that may have the potential to lead to chronic health risks.
Self-SufficientAbility to provide for oneself (and one’s family) without government or other external types of assistance.
Social InclusionA sense of connectivity and value to a community, based on the ability to build and strengthen relationships and networks to others within the community.
School DistrictA government agency responsible for operating local public primary and secondary schools.
School Proficiency TestsComprehensive exams that measure students’ basic reading and writing proficiency at various grade levels.
Smart GrowthDevelopment strategy and patterns that promote mixed-use and mixed-income communities, with a focus on preserving open space, reducing pollution and habitat loss, and maximizing social equity and economic prosperity.
Smart Location Database (SLD) A nationwide geographic data resource created by EPA to measure location efficiency. The database includes more than 90 attributes that summarize characteristics such as housing density, diversity of land use, neighborhood design, destination accessibility, transit service, employment, and demographics.
Social CapitalThe institutions, relationships, and norms that shape the quality and quantity of social interactions. Social capital is a reference to the benefits associated with these interactions and is not a sum of the institutions but their ability to join people together. Examples of social capital are the individual and communal time and energy for such things as community improvement, social networking, civic engagement, personal recreation, and other activities that create social bonds between individuals and groups. Growing evidence indicates social capital and cohesion are critical elements for the economic prosperity of a community and its sustainable development.
Social DeterminantFactors and conditions such as social capitol and cohesion, volunteerism, and participation in the political process that can influence the health and well-being of a community and its residents. See determinants.
Social EquityThe concept that all people, regardless of ethnicity, socio-economic status, sex, or age, should have fair and equal opportunities to education and employment resources; full participation in the political system; access to culture; and the ability to meet fundamental needs.
Socioeconomic StatusThe social standing or class of an individual or group, usually measured by a combination of education, income and occupation.
SprawlDevelopment term usually used to describe a pattern of expansion and land development from the core urban area to suburban and rural areas. Sprawl is a reference to the decentralization of a community in which more land area is used to supply housing, employment centers, recreational areas, and retail to the same level of population.
Standard of LivingThe level of material comfort, in terms of goods and services, available to a community or individual. It includes factors such as income, quality of housing, and availability of employment.
Street Network or GridThe pattern formed by interconnected streets and roads
Superfund SiteAn abandoned hazardous waste sites. The EPA manages the Superfund program mandated by Congress to clean up such sites and to compel responsible parties to perform cleanups or reimburse the government for EPA-lead cleanup efforts.
SustainabilityConditions under which humans and nature exist in productive harmony, i.e., the assurance that there are adequate water, materials and sources to protect human health and the environment for both present and future generations. Concerns about sustainability have emerged as a result of the unintended social, environmental, and economic consequences of rapid population growth, economic growth and consumption of natural resources.
Sustainable Design and DevelopmentAn approach intended to reduce negative environmental impacts from the manufacture and use of products and balance the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
TertileAny of the two points that divide an ordered distribution or group of data into three parts, each containing a third of the data.
Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing (TIGER) DatabaseA digital database of geographic features created by the U.S. Census Bureau that covers the entire U.S. and its territories, which provides a topological description of the geographic structure of these areas. TIGER/Line files, which are publicly available, define the locations and spatial relationships of streets, rivers, railroads, and other features to each other and to the numerous geographic entities for which the Census Bureau tabulates data from its censuses and sample surveys.
Toxic Release Inventory (TRI)An EPA managed portfolio of over 650 toxic chemicals released by U.S. facilities which potentially pose a threat to human health and the environment. Facilities that manufacture, process or otherwise use these chemicals in amounts above established levels must submit annual TRI reports on each chemical released (i.e., emitted into the air or water, or placed in a land disposal) to the environment and/or managed through recycling, energy recovery and treatment. It is important to note that the TRI does not include all toxic chemicals used in the U.S.
ToxinsSubstances created by plants and animals that are poisonous to humans. These may include medications helpful in small doses but poisonous when used in large amounts.
Traffic Analysis Zone (TAZ)A unit of geography commonly used in transportation planning models to tabulate traffic-related data such as journey-to-work. Zones are constructed using census block information such as number of autos per household, household income and employment; although the size varies, a zone of under 3000 people is common.
Transit Connectivity PlanA comprehensive strategic plan to ease passenger movements between transit stops and systems by providing more reliable connections, coordinated fare systems, improved signage and reduction of overall travel times. It generally entails mapping of transit stops, ranging from bus stops to ferry landings, at various intervals according to frequency of service.
Transit-Oriented Development (TOD)A high-density, mixed-use development within walking or biking distance (generally defined as a quarter to half mile) of a transit station.
Transportation AlternativesAlternate modes of transportation such as biking, walking, vanpooling, carpooling, or transit.
Tree CoverA measure of the canopy created by trees and their leaves that contributes to a reduction in greenhouse gases, and cooler temperatures.
µg/dlMicrograms per deciliter. The standard unit for measuring Blood Lead Levels (BLL) in children.
U. S. Census BureauThe federal agency responsible for collecting and producing data about population, housing and economy in the U.S. The Census Bureau conducts approximately 200 annual surveys, the 10-year census of the United States population and housing, and the five-year economic census and census of governments.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)The federal agency responsible for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves. The mission of the Department of Health and Human Services is to help provide the building blocks that Americans need to live healthy, successful lives.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)The federal agency responsible for creating strong, sustainable, inclusive communities, and quality affordable homes for all Americans. HUD works to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers, meet the need for quality affordable rental homes, utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life, and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.
Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT)The aggregate number of miles that vehicles are driven in a specified region over a specified period.
Voting DistrictA generic geographic entity adopted by the Census which includes a wide variety of polling areas, such as an election districts, precincts, or ward, that are created to administer elections.
WalkabilityA measure of how supportive an area is to pedestrians and walking based on the presence (or absence) and quality and safety of footpaths, sidewalks or other pedestrian rights-of-way, and access to common destinations, including grocery, retail and other amenities.
World Health Organization (WHO)The directing and coordinating health authority for the United Nations system. It is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries, and monitoring and assessing health trends.
Years of Potential Life Lost (YPLL)A measure of mortality that estimates the average years a person would have lived had they not died prematurely.
Zip Code® Tabulation Area (ZCTA)A statistical entity developed by the U.S. Census Bureau to approximate the delivery area for a U.S. Postal Service five-digit ZIP Code® based on the residential mailing addresses in the Census Bureau's Master Address File. ZCTAs are aggregations of census blocks that have the same predominant ZIP Code associated with their addresses.