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Built Environment

Our built environment comprises our everyday physical surroundings – from parks, to sidewalks, to school yards and more.

Unfortunately, many neighborhoods in Los Angeles County, – most of which are low-income, Black and Brown communities – have historically been under-funded and overlooked, resulting in a combination of inadequate park acreage, unsafe street infrastructure, and a lack of community amenities.

National Health Foundation is committed to the built environment in these neighborhoods through a community-driven approach: where residents define how, when, and where changes get made. Learn more about our efforts below:

BUILD Health L.A. Initiative

Through the Build Health LA Initiative, students from Thomas Jefferson High School and Santee Education Complex in Historic South-Central Los Angeles were tasked with addressing a lack of public space for physical activity in their community. To this end, students developed an assessment tool that grades the accessibility, perceptions of safety, and conditions of amenities in their local parks.

BUILD Health L.A. students utilized this tool to conduct a comparative assessment to determine how parks in their community fare against a more affluent neighborhood. Students shared their findings and recommendations with local park directors and public health leaders, which to this day continue to serve as a point of reference among other studies including the Advocacy Toolkit for Park Equity, Life Expectancy, and Power Building, released by Prevention Institute.

Park Equity Alliance

National Health Foundation is a proud member of the Park Equity Alliance – a small but highly effective group of community organizations and leaders across Los Angeles. In 2019, The Park Equity Alliance worked diligently to ensure that $22 million from the Safe, Clean Neighborhood Parks and Beaches Measure (Measure A) would go directly to park-poor, low-income, Latino and Black neighborhoods.

Neighborhood Beautification and
Walkability Efforts

In collaboration with the City of Los Angeles’ Board of Public Works’ Office of Community Beautification, Comunidad de NHF, a local group of residents in Pico-Union, is working to create a more walkable, safe and welcoming Pico-Union. Through a community-led street assessment, Comunidad de NHF identified critical focus areas in need of improvement including broken sidewalks, chronic dumping areas and inadequate street lighting. These focus areas will be addressed in a five-year neighborhood beautification plan that includes projects such as Adopt-a-Median and recurring pop-up community cleanup events.

Community Garden

In a partnership with the American Heart Association, Comunidad de NHF repurposed an underutilized area in the Pico-Union Recuperative Care facility into a community garden. Members of the community and recuperative care guests are now able to plant their own produce across six garden beds and participate in gardening workshops.

Our Impact

active individuals in Pico-Union resident leader group
outreach meetings and events hosted to address built enivornment issues
Community 311 Walks hosted and 75 service request made to the city With 100% resolution rate


For more information about National Health Foundation’s work in the built environment, please contact:

Ariel Williams-Lewis
Program Manager, Community Initiatives 213-538-0723 awilliams-lewis@nhfca.org