The Newport Health Equity Zone today announced a new partnership with Smart Growth America (SGA) and its LOCUS Coalition of Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors to “engage the city and current North End residents to develop an Equitable Development Plan for the North End of Newport, fostering an inclusive vision for growth that centers equity and will support, rather than displace, current North End residents”.

“Church Community Housing Corporation is thrilled to see its efforts to recruit the LOCUS Group/Smart Growth America result in the Equitable Development Plan contract with the Newport Health Equity Zone (HEZ),” said Christian Belden, Executive Director of the Church Community Housing Corporation in a statement provided to What’s Up Newp.  “In our work as the lead Housing Partner to the HEZ, we recognized the threats to the North-End Residents from the North End Urban Plan extended well beyond housing issues.  The HEZ’s holistic focus on all factors affecting the health of North End residents makes it the natural organization to lead this effort.  CCHC is excited to know our efforts to prevent displacement will be expanded through this process to create real benefits for the low- and moderate-income and minority residents of the North-End.” 

The Newport Health Equity Zone (NHEZ) is committed to innovative, resident-driven strategies that address health disparities. The Zone is a city-wide coalition mobilizing residents and resources of the Broadway and North End neighborhoods to make Newport a place where everyone can thrive.

NHEZ lead partners are: The Alliance for a Livable Newport (civic engagement), Aquidneck Community Table (food access), Aquidneck Land Trust (parks and open space), the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County (arts and culture), Boys & Girls Clubs of Newport County (physical and emotional health), Bike Newport (transportation), Church Community Housing Corporation (housing), Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center (human services), FabNewport (education and economic opportunity), Newport Mental Health (LGBTQ+ healthcare), Sankofa Community Connection (racial equity), Women’s Resource Center (backbone), and Worldways Social Marketing (communications). Each lead partner was selected for their expertise in a priority area, ability to share power with residents, and willingness to work in new ways.

According to NHEZ, residents of the North End are in urgent need of investment that can truly benefit everyone. North End residents are less likely to have access to fresh food, access to quality public space and parks, and access to daily physical activity. Bringing an inclusive, equitable form of development to the North End has the potential to improve and repair these glaring disparities by directing investment in ways that can restore the historical marginalization and underinvestment that helped produce these disparities in the first place.

Smart Growth America (SGA) will partner with the Newport Health Equity Zone in an 18-month technical assistance program to help organize and engage North End residents to work with the city and private-sector interests to ensure revitalization without displacement.

“We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to repair the inequities caused by highway infrastructure in the redevelopment of the North End of Newport, by centering the conversation on community residents and taking advantage of the moment we are in,” said Christopher Coes, vice president of land use and development at Smart Growth America and director of LOCUS. “Directly engaging and empowering the community to not only participate equally in, but to own, the development process of their own neighborhood and helping them create a concrete plan to maximize the benefits are key ways to ensure those benefits can be shared with today’s residents of the North End—creating a model for what equitable communities should look like.”

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here -

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at and 401-662-1653.