Senior Housing in Northern California: Engaging Low-Income Senior Housing Residents to Improve Local Environments for Active Living


  • SMC Health System
  • Community members, who eventually formed the Community Advocacy Team (CAT)
  • Mid-Peninsula Housing


  • 22 residents living in a public senior housing setting in East Palo Alto, CA


  • Assess neighborhood factors that made it difficult to walk to destinations as well as make healthful food choices


  • Formed a Community Advocacy Team
  • Created a long-term relationship with representatives of the City Planning Department
  • Reinvigorated an unused community garden 
  • Conducted on-site cooking classes to learn new ways to eat the homegrown produce
  • Allocated $1 million by the City Council for planning and related activities to create a safer “public health” environment
  • Conducted an environmental analysis of the community by the City Council. They updated the city general plan to ensure health was more purposefully included in future planning and implemented a comprehensive sidewalk inventory and repair program 


Buman, M. P., Winter, S. J., Baker, C., Hekler, E. B., Otten, J. J., & King, A. C. (2012). Neighborhood Eating and Activity Advocacy Teams (NEAAT): Engaging older adults in policy activities to improve food and physical environments. Translational Behavioral Medicine, 2(2), 249–253.

Winter, S. J., Buman, M. P., Sheats, J. L., Hekler, E. B., Otten, J. J., Baker, C., … King, A. C. (2014). Harnessing the potential of older adults to measure and modify their environments: long-term successes of the Neighborhood Eating and Activity Advocacy Team (NEAAT) Study. Translational Behavioral Medicine, 4(2), 226–227.


Our Voice Impact

"This experience has changed my life.  I see inadequacies everywhere I go as it relates to pedestrian access and safety.  I even stop [at] construction sites to remind them to be considerate of the handicapped in our community.  Thank you all so much for this awareness and empowerment to require change."

~ Pam Jiner, GirlTrek Advocacy Leader, Denver CO