Investing in Health from the Ground Up: Building a Market for Healthy Neighborhoods

Why is it so difficult to finance the development of healthy neighborhoods when the benefits to people, communities, and the economy are so profound? The answer, at least in part, lies in the fact that these benefits are not generally measured or accounted for in any systematic way. Healthy Neighborhoods Equity Fund (HNEF) is a pioneering, $30 million real estate investment fund in Massachusetts that grew out of the recognition that mixed-income, mixed-use, transit-oriented development (TOD) projects in historically disinvested neighborhoods are both challenging to complete and transformative for communities. HNEF is sponsored by two regional organizations, the Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation, a 26-year-old community development financial institution (CDFI) with $1.2 billion in assets under management, and the Conservation Law Foundation, New England’s oldest and largest environmental advocacy organization.