Building Healthy Communities | Brownsville, Brooklyn
Brownsville is a neighborhood in Brooklyn that can be described as both urban and rural—urban in its density, but rural in its disconnectedness from the rest of New York City. In April 2015, a New York Times article highlighted Brownsville as the community with the lowest life expectancy in New York City. Although Brownsville has suffered from decades of disinvestment, much is being done to improve social cohesion and the overall health and wellbeing of Brownsville residents.
Grantee Name: Community Solutions
Project Title: Brownsville Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative
Grant Amount: $350,000
Watch a video to learn more about these community efforts and the resulting health benefits for residents:
COMMUNITY FAST FACTS
- 78% of residents are black;
- 36% of residents live below the federal poverty line;
- 23.8% of public school children (K–8) were categorized as obese, and 30% of adults in the community are obese;
- 44% of working-age residents are unemployed;
- It has the largest concentration of public housing in the country;
- It has 77 community gardens and 12 urban farms in the neighborhood; and
- It is home to a 15,000-square-foot Planet Fitness gym that registered more than 2,500 members within the first three months of its grand opening.
- Increase access to healthy and affordable foods by engaging with and building the capacity of local businesses interested in selling healthy produce; and
- Plan and implement resident-driven improvements to the physical environment, especially in public spaces and housing and community facilities.
WHAT WE’VE ACHIEVED TO DATE
Sold 35,000 pounds of local produce to date through two youth-managed GrowNYC Youthmarkets;
Conducted outreach to three businesses through the Pitkin Avenue Business Improvement District to connect them to the City’s Shop Healthy initiative;
Updated a health assets map, a visually engaging guide to healthy food options, fitness-friendly areas, and medical services within Brownsville;
Planted a new community garden at New York City Housing Authority’s Brownsville Houses in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice and youth corps from Green City Force; and
- Connected the Riverdale School with GrowNYC to pilot a produce stand led by parents and the Partnership for Children in the school.
BUILT ENVIRONMENT & PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
Worked in collaboration with community partners in the East New York neighborhood to complete 18 miles of bike lanes between the two neighborhoods;
Supported the New Yorkers for Parks’ (NY4P) initial physical assessment in preparation of a more detailed Open Space Index to identify all physical assets in Brownsville and then sharing the resulting assessment with their partners;
Helped form a 30-member resident workgroup to advocate for residents’ desired renovations to be integrated into the City’s improvement plan for Betsy Head Park. In August 2016, Mayor de Blasio announced that Betsy Head Park would be among 5 City parks to receive $150 million in renovation funds ($30 million per park) to support improvements such as new hiking trails and sports fields;
- Published a policy brief with recommendations for using strategies on affordable housing design to increase the physical activity of residents and improve their health, including on a newly constructed development in Brownsville;
- Hosted a ShapeUp Instructor training for more than 50 Brownsville residents in partnership with the Brownsville Recreation Center; and
- Organized and initiated the Brownsville Youth Sports Zone Initiative in summer 2017 for 100 participants aged 6–14 years in a 5-week basketball clinic in Betsy Head Park.
- Hosted the Live! on Livonia event, in partnership with the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the NYC Department of Transportation, which brought out 1,200 residents to participate in a day of fun activities and offered visioning sessions on affordable housing and the development of vacant lots;
- Hosted four annual HOPE Summits, which bring residents together to provide ideas and feedback on the priorities for Brownsville, and then planned and deployed place-making activities that address concerns raised by residents at the HOPE Summits; and
- Opened MGB Pops Public Market, a pedestrian marketplace on a vacant lot that supports local vendors and entrepreneurs, as well as bolsters engagement and economic opportunities for residents.
- Greg Jackson Center for Brownsville
- Made in Brownsville
- Friends of Brownsville Parks
- Project EATS
- Dream Big Foundation
- Melting Pot Foundation
- Brownsville Community Justice Center
- New Yorkers for Parks
- Municipal Arts Society
- Pitkin Avenue BID
- Isabahlia Ladies of Elegance
- Brownsville Multi-Service Family Health Center
WHAT WE’RE INVESTING IN
- Brownsville Community Engagement
- Expanding Healthy Food Access Points in Brownsville
- Wellness Trust for Brooklyn
- Evaluating Active Design in Affordable Housing
- The Skin You're In: Using Film to Empower the Residents of Brownsville
- Community Health Fellowship Program
Check Community Solutions' monthly calendar for upcoming events.