Provide public spaces, amenities and programming for community members to gather, socialize and collaborate.
This WELL feature requires projects to designate a shared, flexible public space for use by the surrounding community, and to offer programming that engages local individuals in managing or utilizing the space in diverse ways.
Studies increasingly demonstrate that the design and function of built spaces can contribute significantly to health disparities. Lower income neighborhoods more often lack safe and well-maintained parks, recreational facilities, sidewalks and attractive scenery, resulting in higher rates of obesity, depression, and distress, shorter life expectancy and reduced feelings of social cohesion that lead to greater risk of stroke. These inequalities also contribute to socioeconomic burdens - in Canada, for example, socioeconomic health inequalities impose a direct economic burden of at least $6.2 billion annually. Moreover, research in the U.S. reveals a decline in community social support and social relations, with people who feel disconnected from their local community encountering more mental health issues than those who have a strong community connection.
Buildings that provide spaces for public use can encourage greater social interaction, social networks, civic engagement, physical activity and collective feelings of community ownership, thereby reducing public health challenges like stress, depression and chronic disease in the surrounding community. Additionally, projects that offer community programming can foster social cohesion, community empowerment and collective trust, which are linked to decreased risk of heart disease, stroke and mortality and improved physical and mental health, happiness and healthy behaviors. Project owners and developers should consider how built spaces can be made more available to the surrounding community, encourage use by a variety of individuals and promote equitable community improvement and engagement.
Provide Community Space (1 point)
Designated space is made available to the public at no cost that meets the following requirements:
Is at least 186 m2 [2,000 ft2].
Open at all times, unless closed for security purposes (e.g., during nighttime hours) or for special events.
Entry points provide access from a minimum of one public use street.
Signage at entrance clearly indicates hours the space is open and the space’s designation for public use.
Provides quality seating areas and sufficient lighting and is easily navigable for individuals of all abilities.
Adheres to a regular maintenance and cleaning schedule.
The following requirements are met:
Access to one or more designated spaces is provided, at no cost or subsidized by at least 50%, to local community groups, student clubs or non-profit organizations for meetings and events.
At least one community engagement program is provided, at no cost or subsidized by at least 50%, to the public on a quarterly basis.
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