Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Investment in housing and neighborhoods is investment in health

Solutions through research
by Lisa Sturtevant, Ph.D.

An individual’s health and well-being is affected by a number of different factors. Research consistently shows that where people live is an important determinant of positive physical and mental health outcomes. The Center for Housing Policy has completed a series of research briefs that describe the intersections between housing and health, analyze opportunities for the housing and health communities to collaborate and highlight successful programs that have integrated housing and health services.

In the context of ongoing national and state efforts to reform health care, it is important for policymakers to understand the various pathways through which housing and neighborhoods affect health. As an update to earlier reviews on the relationship between housing and health, the Center has released a review of the recent research on the various ways in which the production, rehabilitation or other provision of affordable housing may affect health outcomes for children, adults and older adults.

In an effort to help housing and community development professionals learn more about how to collaborate with the health community, the Center has also released a paper that explains how the Medicaid program works and describes key changes made by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This tutorial on the health care environment focuses on opportunities for affordable housing providers to collaborate with health care organizations to address the impact that housing has on the health of a low-income individuals.

Finally, to highlight concrete examples of successful housing-health collaborations, the Center has produced three case studies of innovative programs across the country—Hennepin Health in Minnesota, the Georgia Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, and the Creston Avenue Residence in New York, the first supportive housing project to use Medicaid funds for capital expenses. These case studies describe the process by which housing providers work with health care organizations to improve housing and health conditions of residents. The analyses also highlight challenges and obstacles to integrating housing and health services, and offer innovative solutions to pursue moving forward.

The integration of housing and health is increasingly important given the changing health care landscape, the aging of the population and the growing concern about rising health care costs. The Center for Housing Policy is eager to continue this work on housing and health, and to connect our research with not only housing and community development professionals, but also with the health community. One key goal of this work is to provide research and information to help housing and health strategies to be incorporated into broader community development efforts.

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