Connecting Healthy Living and Affordable Housing
- Feb 27, 2015
Washington, D.C.–Vitus Group announced Thursday that it is one of the first affordable housing developers in the United States to join forces with the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA).
PHA works with the private sector and the PHA Honorary Chair First Lady Michelle Obama to assist in making healthier choices easier for busy parents and families. The announcement was made during PHA’s Building a Healthier Future Summit in Washington, D.C.
“We are honored to join PHA because it represents an important expansion for us as an affordable housing developer. We view our buildings as more than safe and stable homes; they also have the potential to be platforms to reach communities in need,” said Stephen Whyte, managing director of Vitus Group. “We hope that providing our residents with access to a healthier lifestyle will positively influence their everyday lives. PHA and the Center for Active Design will help us be more innovative as we deploy upgrades and programs.”
Vitus Group is a Seattle-based national developer specializing in refurbishing aging properties to preserve affordable housing in expensive urban areas. Vitus, along with PHA and The Center for Active Design, has pledged to build healthier communities across the country by incorporating Active Design elements into at least 80 percent of its future developments. That includes: indoor and outdoor exercise and play spaces available year-round for children, adults and seniors, well-lit and accessible stairwells to encourage stair use, long term bicycle storage, kitchen and casual eating spaces to promote healthy eating, community gardens and Community Supported Agriculture programs, cooking and exercise classes, and chronic disease management seminars.
“We are all designed to move,” said PHA CEO Lawrence A. Soler. “By focusing on integrating strategies that get people moving right from the start, housing developers like Vitus Group are leading their industry in helping us make the healthy choice the easy choice.”
Vitus is known as a national leader in the renovation and revitalization of affordable housing communities. The company incorporates resident services and Active Design elements in many of its properties across the country. This PHA commitment advances these practices by mapping out an efficient strategy. Encouragement of physical activity and health education are vital in lower-income communities, where several studies show people are at greatest risk for obesity and obesity-related diseases.
The Center for Active Design will independently validate Vitus’ progress on its pledge and provide recommendations for further Active Design elements that are personalized to each community.