The impact of housing on health is a growing topic of discussion in health transformation in public health conferences around the country. Dr. Megan Sandel MD, MPH, the nation’s leading expert on how housing impacts child health, is coming to Greensboro for Housing Summit 2019.
In Greensboro, community partnerships are already addressing health through housing interventions.
Here are five of the ways:
1. As we age or experience mobility challenges, our housing may no longer fit our needs for accessibility and safety; we may risk injuries from falling and become isolated in our own homes.
Prescription: Aging Gracefully. Community Housing Solutions and Triad Healthcare Network are partnering to modify homes and medical protocols to the specific needs of each homeowner to improve health. As part of a national research study, this Greensboro partnership is proving the benefits of the integrated approach.
Read Ruby McBee’s story here.
2. As housing conditions deteriorate, mold and pests and fire hazards and lead dust threaten our health.
Prescriptions: Housing repairs, from addressing water leaks and electrical shorts to using Integrated Pest Management and Lead Safe Work Practices, are restoring houses and apartments to safe condition. City housing rehabilitation programs and Lead Hazard Control grants, as well as nonprofit home repair programs, help homeowners and rental owners address health risks. When owners are unwilling to repair, code enforcement inspectors can order them to correct code violations—or, with due process, the city can repair and place a first-position lien on the property.
Watch this video to see the difference that housing makes for Dr. Mulberry’s young asthma patient at Mustard Seed Community Health.
3. As our income and utility bills fluctuate, we experience stress about our ability to pay housing costs plus other basic needs. Do we pay rent or mortgage, or do we eat or buy medication?
Prescriptions: HUD-approved Housing Counseling agencies guide homeowners through foreclosure prevention options to save their homes. Greensboro’s eviction rate is highest in NC; legal counsel, social work services, landlord and tenant education, and additional affordable housing would preserve stability and health.
4. As we lose our homes and try to survive on the streets, the dangers and deprivation and despair compromise our physical and mental health and send us to hospital emergency departments—or jail.
Prescription: In supportive housing, house keys replace hospital wrist bands or handcuffs. Let’s pair services—mental health, case management, nursing, employment—with conveniently-located apartments or shared housing and subsidies for rents affordable on extremely low wages or disability income.
Read about Housing Summit speaker Andy McMahon’s work with supportive housing here.
5. As neighbors are displaced by substandard conditions or eviction or foreclosure and homes depreciate, our communities suffer disinvestment and growing inequality, resulting in stark contrasts in life expectancy and hospital emergency visits.
Prescription: Community-centered health revitalizes whole neighborhoods, where health strategies are led by community residents with support from nonprofit organizations, local government, hospitals and universities. Cottage Grove, in southeast Greensboro, is a national model for community leadership in transforming housing, fresh food access, and safe places to walk and play. Meet the neighborhood here.
As partnerships continue to broaden and take action to implement healthy housing plans, save June 7 to hear more at UNCG’s Symposium RxHousing.
What opportunities does your community have for learning and connecting health and housing? Share them so that everyone can have a safe place to call home.