An “issue brief” from the National Housing Conference and the Center for Housing Policy gets into the specifics of something those in the housing policy field have known for some time: the correlation between the physical quality, affordability and location of housing and a variety of health outcomes means that health and housing policy should be intertwined.
Housing and Health: New Opportunities for Dialogue and Action “outlines the health effects of housing quality, housing affordability, physical neighborhood attributes, and social and community attributes,” according to a press release that accompanied the release of the brief. Some pertinent facts on direct links between housing and health:
- “Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers, causing an estimated 15,000–21,000 lung cancer deaths annually. Nearly one in 15 homes in the United States have radon levels above 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L), the level at which the EPA recommends taking specific steps to reduce radon levels in the home”
- “Emerging research on the impacts of the foreclosure crisis points to linkages between home foreclosures and an array of negative psychological and physical health problems, including hypertension, heart disease, and anxiety or depression”
- “Compact communities that include a mix of uses within close proximity encourage residents to walk by clustering destinations and housing close together. Higher-density neighborhoods lead to greater physical activity by residents and have been demonstrated to reduceobesity by promoting walking and public transit use.”
The executive director of the National Center for Healthy Housing, Rebecca Morley, sees the contents of this report, which goes through many more specific elements of housing quality, location and surroundings, and affordability and how each factor influences health outcomes, as “a first step toward building a national cross-disciplinary dialogue that will advance healthier homes and neighborhoods across the country.”
Read the full issue brief here.