Home » Our Impact » Impact Areas » Neighborhood & Physical Environment

Increase investment of capital and resources in community infrastructure that builds healthier neighborhoods.

The built environment and perceptions of resources play a large role in the health of a neighborhood, ranging from affordable housing to safety to access to healthy foods. West Side neighborhoods face varying disparities across these dimensions. Several West Side neighborhoods experience high vacancy rates, housing costs, and nearly all of the 560,000 residents on Chicago’s West Side face at least one barrier to food security, including reduced quality, variety, or sufficiency of available food. WSU strives to address these disparities by coordinating on new strategies to improve healthy food access and impact investing.

WSU has coordinated over $10.8M since 2018 in impact investments as well as dedicated resources to healthy food access, including co-funding a SNAP and Medicaid Benefits Enrollment Coordinator with the Greater Chicago Food Depository and piloting a Fruits and Vegetables Voucher Program at the Farm on Ogden.

WSU Impact Investing Health Equity Evaluation

In partnership with investor partners, community members, and evaluators with the American Medical Association, WSU have compiled findings about our impact investing in the West Side to date and consideration for the future.

Download and view our Nutrition Education Toolkit.
pantries have partnered with WSU anchor institutions to support emergency food access
Jennifer Norsworthy, WSU Healthy Food Program Manager
Jennifer (Norsworthy) Marcsisin
Director of Health and Healthcare

To learn more about supporting neighborhoods & physical environments in our 10 communities, please email Jennifer at: jmarcsisin@westsideunited.org

WSU tracks the progress of our initiatives; we also track changes in community-level data to monitor progress towards our overarching goals and inform our actions and projects on the ground. We selected 3 Neighborhood & Physical Environment metrics from our comprehensive measurement framework to highlight key areas of focus. For more information about our comprehensive framework, please click here.

In our metrics dashboard, we are tracking:

There are many barriers to obtaining and consuming healthy foods, including distance to markets and food deserts, transportation, availability of healthy products, and cost. This measure shows the percent of adults age 18 and older who reported that it’s very easy to get fresh fruits and vegetables.

West Side neighborhoods experience a disproportionate rate of violent crime, impacting feelings of safety and community wellbeing. This measure shows the rate of violent crime incidents per 100,000 residents.

Families that pay a large proportion of their income towards housing may have challenges affording other necessities like food, clothing, and health care. This measure shows the percent of households that spend 35% or more of their income on housing costs.