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Sep 25
NEWS RELEASE: Boston Receives Millions in New Funding to Promote Public Health

Support for residents most impacted by obesity, tobacco and chronic illness will be the focus

BOSTON—The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) announced today that it has been awarded approximately $8.4 million in two awards from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to fund a variety of innovative chronic disease prevention programs in the city.

The new federal funding will support an array of strategies to reduce tobacco use and exposure, obesity, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes by creating access to environments and resources that encourage healthier choices. The awards will also provide for a continued focus on achieving health equity for residents in Boston's communities of color.

"I want to commend the Commission and our neighborhood partners for receiving these competitive awards that will help improve the health of all Bostonians. I am very grateful that the federal government recognized the groundbreaking work of the BPHC and community health groups to respond not only to the symptoms of poor health, but also to address the root causes of public health problems in our city," said Boston Mayor, Martin J. Walsh. 

The funding awarded today includes:

  • $5.4 million over 3 years to support the Partnerships to Improve Community Health, a citywide initiative that will promote voluntary policy and systems changes by organizations to support healthy choices in physical activity, nutrition and smoke free housing.

  • Nearly $3 million over 3 years to fund Boston REACH: Partners in Health and Housing, an initiative focused on improving the health of Boston residents in public and subsidized housing.

"This new funding will allow the Commission and our partners to go beyond focusing on individual behavior and education. It will enable us to strengthen systems, communities and organizations that can help make the healthy choice the easy choice for our residents. The awards will also allow us to continue the important work of promoting and protecting the health of all residents, particularly those who bear disproportionate health burdens because of poverty, racial and ethnic inequities," said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the Commission's executive director.

Despite years of work and some success on health inequities, differences in several key health indicators persist among racial and ethnic groups in Boston. Obesity rates for Black and Latino adults are almost double that of White adult residents of the city. In addition, Black adults in Boston have higher rates of high blood pressure, and diabetes rates for Black and Latino adults are double the rates experienced by White adults. Smoking rates among residents of public and subsidized housing in Boston are double compared to those of other residents in the city. 


About Partnerships to Improve Community Health (PICH)

Boston PICH will take a citywide approach to creating healthier environments. Partnering with the Boston Alliance for Community Health, city agencies, and others, the Commission will work on expanding access to healthy food and beverages, promoting more walkable and bikable neighborhoods, supporting the supply and demand for smoke-free housing, and increasing breastfeeding-friendly environments. The project will also provide resources for low-income residents, such as access to bicycles and affordably priced fresh fruits and vegetables. The Harvard School of Public Health Prevention Research Center will serve as the project's evaluator.

The neighborhoods of Mattapan and North Dorchester, which have among the highest rates of chronic disease and associated risk factors, will receive special focus under the initiative. Funding will also be used for public awareness campaigns that will help build demand for healthier options citywide and among priority populations.

"This funding is wonderful news, and an example of the type of inclusive, community-centered approach that we know works in helping residents, neighborhoods, and cities become healthier. We are excited to be part of this collaborative effort and look forward to working with our partners to implement this ambitious plan," said Pat Milano, steering committee chair for the Boston Alliance for Community Health.

About Boston REACH: Partners in Health and Housing (Boston PHH)

The Boston PHH is a project of the Partnership in Health and Housing made up of four organizations that have worked for 13 years to improve the health of public and subsidized housing residents. The project funded by the new award will focus on Black and Latino residents of public and subsidized housing in Boston, with a special emphasis on the Roxbury and Dorchester neighborhoods of the city where over half of the 45,000 residents who will benefit from the initiative live. Residents of public and subsidized housing suffer disproportionately higher rates of smoking, obesity and chronic health conditions. The Boston PHH partners include the BPHC, Boston Housing Authority, Boston University School of Public Health and the Community Committee for Health Promotion.  

Together, the coalition partners will use the new funding to strengthen efforts to decrease tobacco use, especially the use of menthol cigarettes, and improve access to tobacco free environments and tobacco cessation services. Efforts to improve health and nutrition by increasing access to healthy beverages, including tap water, and to increase pedestrian safety to promote walking will also be a focus of the initiative.

"These awards represent another investment in support of the Commission's longstanding leadership and focus on eliminating racial and ethnic health inequities in the city. Together, with residents, tenant organizations and the BHA, we have made progress through the years. These new resources will help us advance our shared commitment to health equity and social justice in Boston," said Harold Cox, principal investigator for the Partnership in Health and Housing and associate dean of public health practice at the Boston University School of Public Health.   

Click here for fact sheets that include public health data and more information on the funding awards announced today, or learn more by visiting the Commission's website at



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