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Exploring the nexus between health and housing

Over 300 housing stakeholders joined NHC last week for our Health and Housing Webinar. The event built on research we covered in our report last year, Promising Health and Housing Collaborations. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the nexus between health and housing has dominated the nation’s housing agenda.
So, when Zillow, a new NHC member, suggested we do a webinar with Dr. Regina Benjamin, who served as the 18th U.S. Surgeon General under the Obama administration, we jumped at the opportunity. The event was also sponsored by the Kresge Foundation, who funded our research. Kresge’s David Fukuzawa moderated a panel discussion with two leaders in this area: Neru Gobin of the Tennessee Department of Health and Substance Abuse Services and Rachel Solotaroff of Central City Concern.
Dr. Benjamin discussed a wide range of issues, including prospects for a vaccine and therapeutic research, safe practices for the real estate industry, and the importance of continuing to be vigilant about the “three W’s: Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Watch where you step.” Dr. Benjamin is currently serving as a health and safety advisor for Zillow and working on their “Move Forward. Stay Safe” initiative.
Representatives from the Portland, Oregon Housing is Health Initiative and Tennessee Creating Homes Initiative discussed how they’ve creatively pivoted their programs and leaned into collaborative partnerships to continue to serve at-need households, including individuals managing mental health conditions, experiencing homelessness or battling substance abuse. Fukuzawa moderated the discussion, sharing the Kresge Foundation’s focus on social determinants of health, including the close connection between health and housing issues, such as substandard property conditions, the lack of affordable housing, income inequality and race.
This pandemic has put us in unchartered waters, presenting challenges in both health and housing we haven’t faced in generations. This week, the National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA) issued a new report that found 8.38 million households are likely to face eviction by the end of the year if Congress doesn’t pass rental assistance. The research, conducted by Stout Risius Ross, LLC, estimates there are between 9.7 million and 14.2 million renter households in the U.S. that are struggling to pay their rent. The strain of millions of evictions on every aspect of American life is unimaginable. The impact on the spread of the pandemic is likely to be even worse.
For the latest information on COVID-19 and housing, I encourage you to check out NHC’s COVID-19 Housing Resource Center. It includes over 1,000 resources for housing leaders, practitioners, homeowners and renters and is updated every week. We’ve compiled more than 360 frequently asked questions on our site and have profiled six organizations in our best practices section to share the lessons learned and successes of housers that – just like you – have devoted the past six months to responding to COVID-19.
We have a hard winter ahead of us, but as long as housers continue to work together on solutions to address the pandemic’s economic crisis, as well as the broader housing challenges we face today, we will get through this. Stay safe and be well.

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