Residents of the Near Northside neighborhood are caught in a cycle of poor health. They face multiple stressors including health disparities, environmental challenges and public/personal safety threats. This partnership will take steps to address and amend several of these upstream health and safety issues, including building a safe environment through improved infrastructure, and reduced crime and stray dogs; implementing food-as-health and exercise-as-medicine programs; ensuring healthy, affordable homes; and bridging opportunities for residents across sectors.


BUILD and its communities apply bold, upstream, integrated, local, and data-driven (BUILD) approaches to improve health in communities that are adversely affected by upstream factors.


Formalizing this partnership through the BUILD Health Challenge reframes the health issues with a broader vision of community safety, and with resources to address many of the contributing, upstream factors adversely affecting community health. This project is taking a fresh approach to addressing safety issues that can create sustainable solutions for resulting conditions such as chronic disease.


The social determinants of health that need to be improved include: unsafe neighborhoods, food insecurities, unstable and unsafe housing and lack of health knowledge. Unsafe housing is an even greater threat with roof damage, mold and other hazards exacerbated by Hurricane Harvey. Improvement of these determinants include initiating exercise, healthy food and community programming in parks to discourage crime, and providing affordable asthma and lead-proof housing. This safer, lower-stress, healthier environment serves as a catalyst for improvement of overall health.


The neighborhood is unique in both its history and civic engagement, and is ready to maximize its strengths by effectively engaging resident, organizational and government partners for creative problem solving. Avenue, the Houston Health Department, Memorial Hermann Health System and extensive partner networks coordinate and leverage resources in driving systemic change and building a sustainable and complete community.


Numerous resident-led teams are already working toward several goals in the community’s vision for improving health. This project will focus on enhancing leadership among community residents, and connecting residents with allies at the city level to further their goals. Having residents at the table for implementation is key to creating programs or actions that are the most utilized and have the greatest impact.


Each partner has agreed to collect and share data. All data will be centrally housed on the HIPAA compliant secure Kinder Institute’s Houston Urban Data Platform at Rice University to further facilitate assessment and transparency. The Houston Health Department will also conduct a comprehensive analysis of the interplay between programs and spatial-temporal progress toward goals.