Three affordable housing developers have agreed to incorporate active design strategies into at least 80% of their development projects over the next three years.

Blue Sea Development, Urban Ventures, and Vitus Group are the first in the industry to collaborate with the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA). Collectively, the three commitments are estimated to impact more than 4,250 units.

Active design strategies were developed in collaboration with the Center for Active Design and leading experts in the built environment space. They include features such as facilities for physical activity, well-designed stairs that encourage everyday use, infrastructure to support walking and biking, and free or low-cost programming to support resident health.

“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,” says Stephen Whyte, managing director of Vitus, a Seattle-based national developer. “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’ commitment includes incorporating a variety of elements into its future developments, such as:

  • Indoor and outdoor spaces for exercise available year-round for children, adults, and seniors;
  • Inviting, accessible stairwells that encourage stair use;
  • Long-term bicycle storage;
  • Community gardens and community-supported agriculture programs; and
  • Cooking classes, exercise classes, and chronic disease management seminars.

The Center for Active Design will independently verify the company’s progress on its commitment and as part of that process will provide recommendations for additional active design elements that are tailored to each community. First Lady Michelle Obama is the honorary chair of PHA.