WASHINGTON— Better living environments promote better health, and partnerships between housing and health care practitioners could mean improved outcomes for low-income individuals and families. Three new case studies released today by the National Housing Conference’s Center for Housing Policy highlight promising examples of how housing and health collaborations can improve the overall health and wellbeing of low-income individuals and families, while decreasing environmental hazards, emergency room visits, and overall health care costs.
The case studies, Collaborating with Housing Quality Stakeholders to Reduce Home Health Risks, Addressing Housing as a Health Care Treatment and Using Health Care Savings to Construct Supportive Housing in New York, affirm previous research showing that access to stable and affordable housing is an important social determinant of mental, physical and emotional health. When housing is unaffordable or located in high-stress environments, residents tend to experience more debilitating health concerns. But people who have access to stable, affordable, high-quality housing tend to be in better health, which leads to lower health care expenditures. As the case studies reveal, low-quality housing, and lack of affordable housing, is a challenge that both housing developers and health care organizations can tackle collectively to achieve better health outcomes.
Hennepin Health: Hennepin County, Ohio
Highlighted in Addressing Housing as a Health Care Treatment, Hennepin Health partners determined that addressing the housing needs of its patients is essential to effectively addressing their health care needs. Since incorporating housing placement services in 2012, the program has seen significant improvements in patients’ health, as a result of reduced health risks that come with stable housing. Of the 112 people who accessed housing through the program since its inception, the program costs and use of health care decreased significantly. Additionally, emergency room visits decreased by 50 percent between 2012 and 2013 and in-patient hospital visits decreased by over 30 percent.
Georgia Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (GHHLPPP)
GHHLPPP offers resources and services for lead poisoning prevention to families living in communities with high risk for environmental hazards. Through partnerships with various organizations dedicated to reducing environmental hazards in homes, GHHLPPP has been able to serve hundreds of families since 2013.
“GHHLPPP created the Healthy Homes Coalition to create strategies for achieving healthier home environments for low-income families,” Viveiros explained. “The coalition not only supports GHHLPPP’s work and shares the goal of improving the environmental standard of affordable housing, but it also shows that there is strength in numbers, especially for organizations that may have limited funding and resources.”
Creston Avenue Residence: Bronx, New York
This 66-unit affordable multifamily development is the first supportive housing project developed using Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT) funds allocated by a group of stakeholders charged with guiding the state Medicaid reform process. Using these MRT funds as a source of capital has made it more feasible for developers to include supportive housing units in the new development.
“Supportive housing for extremely low-income households tends to require higher subsidies for developers, so the savings that come from Medicaid reform play a significant role in ensuring that supportive housing can continue to be developed for the most vulnerable individuals and families,” Viveiros said.
Each program demonstrates opportunities for collaboration between the housing and health care communities, while also bringing to light some of the challenges that come with ensuring residents have access to affordable housing that will be beneficial to their health. Most often, that challenge is funding.
“These programs show initial success, but expanding them requires sustainable funding, which is limited,” said Viveiros. “These programs offer examples of great work around health and affordable housing that others can emulate and pursue with health practitioners in their own communities.”
About the National Housing Conference
The National Housing Conference represents a diverse membership of housing stakeholders including tenant advocates, mortgage bankers, nonprofit and for-profit home builders, property managers, policy practitioners, Realtors®, equity investors, and more, all of whom share a commitment to safe, decent and affordable housing for all in America. We are the nation’s oldest housing advocacy organization, dedicated to the affordable housing mission since our founding in 1931. We are a nonpartisan, 501(c)3 nonprofit that brings together our broad-based membership to advocate on housing issues. Learn more at nhc.org.
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