Your ZIP code can be as important as your genetic code when it comes to health.

That genes influence our health is well known. So is the importance of healthy eating and active living. What is not as widely known is how greatly the conditions in which people live, learn, work, and play affect their health.

Making healthy choices depends on the choices you have.

  • If an area has no stores with ample options for healthy foods—or if healthy foods are not affordable—eating healthy can be difficult.
  • If there are no open spaces or safe places to play or exercise—parks, playgrounds, basketball courts—active living can be hard to do.

Not all New Yorkers have the same opportunities to be healthy. Population-specific differences in quality of health caused by racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic factors are called “health disparities.” When opportunities for health are fair and balanced, “health equity” can exist.

In some high-poverty areas, only 1 in 10 residents eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables daily—half the rate of the highest-income areas.1

Building Healthy Communities—Promoting Health at the Neighborhood Level.

Reducing health disparities and increasing health equity in the five boroughs of New York is the goal of Building Healthy Communities (BHC). A new initiative by the de Blasio administration, BHC aims to improve community health outcomes in 12 neighborhoods around the city by increasing access to fresh food, improving opportunities for physical activity, and promoting safe and vibrant public spaces.


Led by the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Partnerships and the Fund for Public Health in New York City, BHC is aligning the resources and programs of multiple city agencies, leveraging the City’s investment to secure significant new private funding, and connecting City efforts to individual, nonprofit, business, and community efforts to maximize collective impact.


The Fund is leading the fundraising and grant management for BHC. This work includes coordination of partners, budget management, executing contracts, hiring staff, and ensuring grant compliance.

Children of parents who report anxiety about neighborhood safety get less exercise.2

City Agency Partners

NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
NYC Department of Parks & Recreation
NYC Department of Transportation
NYC Housing Authority (NYCHA)
NYC Police Department
NYC Department of Environmental Protection
NYC Department of Youth and Community Development
NYC Young Men’s Initiative
Mayor’s Office of Strategic Partnerships
Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit
Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice
Mayor’s Office of Food Policy
Mayor’s Office of Operations

Citywide Partners

City Harvest
Green City Force
Harvest Home

Participating Neighborhoods

Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn
Brownsville, Brooklyn
Canarsie, Brooklyn
Central Harlem/Polo Grounds, Manhattan
Corona, Queens
East Harlem, Manhattan
Flushing, Queens
Hunts Point, Bronx
Mariner’s Harbor, Staten Island
Morrisania, Bronx
Mott Haven, Bronx
Stapleton, Staten Island

Private Donors to Date

Aetna Foundation
All in Brooklyn
Astoria Energy
Brooklyn Community Foundation
Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield HealthPlus
JRM Construction
Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund
Merck Family Fund
New York Community Trust
New York State Health Foundation
Scherman Foundation
Wakefern Food Corporation

Learn about Current Programs

Farms at NYCHA (PDF, 3.5MB): Creating urban farms with free fresh produce and opportunities for safe, outdoor activity for NYCHA residents.


Hunts Point (PDF, 1.4MB): Turning the potential of existing assets in the South Bronx community of Hunts Point into greater opportunities for healthy living.


Opportunities for Partners (PDF, 1.1MB)

For more information, please contact:

Tamara Greenfield
Building Healthy Communities
[email protected]


Sara Gardner, MPH
Executive Director
Fund for Public Health in New York City
[email protected]

1 “2013 Community Health Survey.” NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

2 Weir LA, Etelson D, Brand DA. Parents’ perceptions of neighborhood safety and children’s physical activity. Prev Med. 2006; 43 (3):212– 217