“What information is important to consider and prioritize when identifying which Roanoke neighborhood will receive concentrated HUD community development funding?”
This question was posed to a group of residents of Roanoke, Virginia, in a public deliberation co-led by the New York Academy of Medicine and ChangeLab Solutions on behalf of the City of Roanoke’s planning department. ChangeLab Solutions also provided legal and policy expertise to help the city adopt a Health in All Policies approach and prioritize health equity in the planning process for its 2040 comprehensive plan.
What is a public deliberation? A public deliberation informs a cross section of community members about the nuances of various options under consideration by an agency or organization, engages them in discussions that elicit their underlying values and beliefs, then solicits their input on deciding which option(s) to pursue. This process allows decisionmakers to incorporate the values and priorities of constituents who would be affected by the decision.
A new case study, published as a commentary in the National Academy of Medicine’s Perspectives, describes how Roanoke’s public deliberation was used to incorporate community views into the city’s decisionmaking process.
Why is public deliberation important? Shauneequa Owusu, chief strategy officer at ChangeLab Solutions and a co-author of the case study, comments, “It’s critical to center the voices of community members in policy development to advance health equity. Working with the New York Academy of Medicine and the Department of Planning, Building, & Development in Roanoke to actively engage residents' input in a decisionmaking process created policy that served the needs of the community."
Engaging residents in decisions that affect health can help lessen existing inequities in their communities; however, soliciting meaningful involvement can be challenging. Public deliberation and facilitated conversations with communities show promise as effective solutions.
Owusu adds, “Local governments looking for new approaches to equitable and inclusive policymaking can look to Roanoke's public deliberation process as a model.”