Congressman Tim Ryan Congratulates Akron and Youngstown for being Named Invest Health Cities

May 17, 2016 Issues: Helping Working Families, Health Care

Akron and Youngstown, Ohio – Congressman Tim Ryan today congratulates the cities of Akron and Youngstown for being selected by Reinvestment Fund and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to take part in the new Invest Health initiative, aimed at transforming how leaders from mid-size American cities work together to help low-income communities thrive. Akron and Youngstown will each receive a $60,000 grant to improve healthy living opportunities for residents by addressing factors that drive health, such as access to safe and affordable housing, places to play and exercise, and quality jobs.

“I applaud Akron and Youngstown for being selected to be a part of this distinguished initiative and receiving these funds to help improve the health of our communities. Youngstown and Akron are both working to achieve these goals though different means – Akron will address obesity, hypertension, diabetes and cancer through creating more walkable neighborhoods that will enhance the well-being of its citizens; Youngstown will address health disparities linked to poor quality housing and infrastructure by decreasing lead hazards in homes, reducing abandoned properties and enhancing public spaces. I am proud that Akron and Youngstown are using these innovative techniques to ensure that those in our communities are able to lead healthy, vibrant and secure lives,” said Congressman Ryan.

"Our Invest Team members were very enthusiastic about applying for this grant, meeting and completing the requirements in a short period of time. We believe our ability to do this and the fact that we as partners have a history of collaboration contributed to the strength of the Akron team’s application. We are looking forward to beginning the program and ultimately engaging the Middlebury neighborhood in a variety of sustainable initiatives that promote physical, economic, and social health,” said Dr. Terry Albanese, Assistant to the Mayor for Education, Health and Families.

“The intended health outcome disparities that the Invest Health Plan intends to address in the City of Youngstown are all issues that the Health District is committed to reducing i.e. high rates of obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes due to inactive lifestyle and long-term developmental effects resulting from exposure to lead in poor quality housing and property conditions. The Youngstown City Health District is committed to this collaborative initiative with the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation, Youngstown State University, Mercy Health Foundation, and Eastgate Regional Council of Governments to improve the quality of life for the residents of Youngstown city neighborhoods.” Erin Bishop, Health Commissioner, Youngstown City Health District.

Akron and Youngstown were selected from more than 180 teams from 170 communities that applied. The initiative focuses on cities with populations between 50,000 and 400,000. Mid-size American cities face some of the nation’s deepest challenges with entrenched poverty, poor health and a lack of investment, but they also offer fertile ground for strategies that improve health and have the potential to boost local economies. 

Over the next 18 months, Akron and Youngstown will join other Invest Health teams in sharing best practices and receiving technical assistance from expert advisors and coaches, along with engaging with other local stakeholders to encourage knowledge sharing.

Akron: The health outcomes we intend to address through Invest Health are obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and cancer. The aim is to create a more walkable neighborhood with attractive destinations that will enhance all facets of well-being. Potential opportunities include: retail and coffee shops, adult primary care, collaborative space for social and educational programming surrounding healthy lifestyles and food preparation, community gardening, and educational and skill building resources. Purposeful infrastructure and retail development on the open space has the potential for the greatest impact. Further developments such as adult primary care offices, child care, housing, and other destination places will be clear signs of community investment and vitality.

Youngstown: The city of Youngstown will foster healthy neighborhoods by addressing disparities in health outcomes linked to poor quality housing and infrastructure. The Invest Health team will address the following: 1) reducing the number occupied homes in serious disrepair with lead hazard issues; 2) reducing the number wide open, abandoned properties littered with trash, debris and criminal activity; 3) improving the safety and condition of sidewalks and streetscapes connecting residents to neighborhood assets; and 4) enhancing the condition of infrastructure in city parks and other public spaces.