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Environmental Justice Equals Healthy, Sustainable, and Equitable Communities

The diagram below shows how housing, health, transportation, environment and other factors interact in creating sustainable and equitable communities. Click on a topic in the diagram to learn about its role in the addressing long-standing environmental and health challenges and revitalizing neighborhoods.

EJ = Healthy Sustainable Equitable Communities Health Federal Agency Contacts Transportation Capacity Building Environment Research Housing Training

EJ = Healthy, Sustainable, and Equitable Communities

Creating healthy, sustainable, and equitable communities is a priority of the federal government. Environmental Justice plays a key role in an integrated effort that concurrently addresses housing, environment, transportation and health issues. Below is essential information on key authorities and federal initiatives that address this integrated approach to environmental justice.


Low income, minority and tribal populations are more likely to live in unhealthy housing with indoor air pollution, lead paint, asbestos, mold and mildew. Affordable, healthy, high-quality housing is one of the basic elements of a sustainable community. Housing choice plays an important role in reducing health, economic, and quality of life disparities and leads to building thriving regions.


Many underserved neighborhoods do not have transportation options, such as sidewalks, crosswalks, street lights, parks, or recreational facilities. They often lack grocery stores, health centers, schools and other daily necessities within walking distance of homes. The links between physical activity and health are well established. Research indicates that low-income populations engage in less physical activity than the general population, and some minorities are less likely than other groups to get enough daily physical activity. These trends can be related in part to how communities and streets are designed, which has a direct effect on one's ability to be active. An inactive lifestyle can contribute to obesity, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes - illnesses that disproportionately affect minority communities.

Transportation options provide critical links to employment, educational opportunities, job creation, and health.


Low-income, minority, and tribal communities have historically borne a disproportionate share of environmental harms and risks and are more likely to live in areas that increase these risks. Addressing pollution, arranging land use, and developing sites in a manner that protects overburdened populations from environmental and health hazards, can help create safe places to live, learn, work, play, and pray. A clean environment and healthy population for all Americans, including overburdened communities, are the ultimate goals of environmental justice, smart growth, and equitable development.


Many factors are at play that influence health status and when making day-to-day health decisions. These factors include access to health care, green spaces, healthy food, education and jobs, as well as having reliable infrastructure, transportation choices, and clean air, land and water. Increasing access to healthy opportunities promotes healthier populations, especially those who are overburdened.

Capacity Building

Meaningful community engagement includes the capacity for communities and involved stakeholders to participate in decision-making. Capacity building includes funding, training and technical assistance to implement community transformation.

Federal Agency Contacts

The directories and lists in this section include contact information for headquarter and regional staff at the Department of Transportation (DOT), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), EPA, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that address environmental justice, sustainability, and/or health. This information allows communities and stakeholders to utilize federal agency staff and resources to achieve healthy, sustainable and equitable communities.


Research on environmental justice, health and sustainability supports a continued focus on clean and safe communities to live, learn, work, play, and pray.


Research on environmental justice, health and sustainability supports a continued focus on clean and safe communities to live, learn, work, play, and pray.

About Team EJ

The Partnership created Team EJ, a working group focused on the connections between environmental justice, health and sustainable communities. Team EJ, co-chaired by EPA's Office of Environmental Justice and HUD's Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities, strives to better understand how EPA, HUD, DOT and CDC can integrate environmental justice, health, and sustainability goals and use existing resources to address environmental justice needs.

Partnership for Sustainable Communities

The Partnership for Sustainable Communities is an interagency collaboration that supports communities' efforts to expand housing and transportation choices, protect air and water, attract economic growth, and provide the type of development residents want. More...

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