Housing and Health Resources

Getting to Healthy Housing in South King County

HDC thanks Catherine Verrenti and Evans School student Mitchell Hannoosh for their fantastic and thorough work on this report.

This white paper provides a detailed proposal as to how South King County could adopt and utilize a resource and referral network and community health workers in unsubsidized housing. It is a is a follow up to the June 2015 report, “Health and Housing in South King County,” written for the Housing Development Consortium of Seattle – King County by Andrew Calkins, Andrew Desmond and Andrew Wong of the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Policy and Governance.  It is highly recommended that the aforementioned report be read prior to this one for deeper context and understanding.

Improving the Health of Housing in South King County

HDC is incredibly grateful for all the diligent and terrific work of Evans School students Andrew Calkins, Andrew Wong, and Andrew Desmond.

HDC Members work hard to develop and maintain healthy housing for the low-income residents they serve, but many low-income people are living in non-subsidized housing that, for various reasons, is not as well maintained.  This problem is particularly prominent in South King County where rents are lower and property owners face few incentives to maintain their housing to high quality standards. Our new report recommends several strategies that we hope to further research and/or advocate for in the coming months.

HDC’s Housing and Health Partnerships Forum Report-Out

On June 24, 2015, the Housing Development Consortium hosted a forum highlighting existing best practices and innovative partnerships and programs for housing and health collaborations. Through presentations and discussion, approximately 80 attendees gained a more comprehensive understanding of some new upstream approaches, and why these approaches are so critical to community health. The program included brief presentations from key players and groups already focused on streamlining housing and health services.  Notes from our event, including copies of each presentation and additional reading materials can be found above.

Compounding Stress: The Timing and Duration Effects of Homelessness on Children’s Health

Children’s Health Watch, June 2015

Megan Sandel, MD MPH, Richard Sheward, MPP, and Lisa Sturtevant, PhD

Research has long demonstrated that children’s health is linked to housing stability. Similarly, maternal health during pregnancy is known to be an indicator of a child’s long-term health outcomes. A recent study performed by Children’s HealthWatch reaffirms past research and takes the findings one step further: Experiencing homelessness before and after birth exacerbates negative health-related outcomes for children. The longer a child is homeless before and after birth, the more likely he or she is to experience “poor” or “fair” health assessments, hospitalization, or developmental delays, according to researchers. As such, strong local policies and programs that increase access to affordable, healthy, and stable housing is a critical aspect of maintaining and improving the health of children and youth.

Development of an Index of Subsidized Housing Availability and its Relationship to Housing Insecurity

Children’s HealthWatch

Kathryn T. Bailey, John T. Cook, Stephanie Ettinger de Cuba, Patrick H. Casey, Mariana Chilton, Sharon M. Coleman, Diana Becker Cutts, Timothy C. Heeren, Ruth Rose- Jacobs, Maureen M. Black & Deborah A. Frank

Subsidized housing is invaluable to a child’s well-being and overall physical and mental health in a community. The problem is: there is an extreme lack of subsidized housing compared to the amount of need. Bailey, et. al. argue that by adding only 5% more subsidized units, overcrowding lessens by 26% and 31% fewer families will have to move, two important health contributors. Families that do not have an affordable place to live must make difficult choices between paying healthcare bills, rent, and other basic expenses, which can jeopardize their health. Housing subsidies help prevent these outcomes by leaving more money in the family budget for food and other basic necessities. By adding more subsidies, a healthier, better life can be attained for a child and their family as more room in the family budget is available for meeting basic needs.

Pediatrician Sees Housing as a Vaccine

How Housing Matters, MacArthur Foundation and Urban Land Institute

Dr. Megan Sandel, an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Boston University’s School of Medicine and Co-Principal Investigator with Children’s HealthWatch, suggests that we should treat housing as a “vaccine” for the children of low-income families. Sandel draws connections between stable and affordable housing and a happy and healthy family. Some of a family’s greatest worries are due to the unstable environment in which they live, causing both poor physical and mental health. Food insecurity, unsafe neighborhoods, unsafe homes, and the “heat or eat” mentality are just a few factors that put stress on a family and can stunt the developmental growth of a child and cause depression in the mother. This is why Dr. Sandel calls affordable housing a “vaccine.” She notes that vaccines “provide benefits against multiple threats, builds immunity to be long lasting, and [are] acknowledged to have differential benefits [that] can be targeted and tailored to groups.” Affordable housing benefits the individual, their families, and the community as a whole, creating a safer, healthier place in which low-income families can raise their children.

Demand for Health Workers Is Rising, But Can They Afford Housing?

How Housing Matters, MacArthur Foundation and Urban Land Institute

Janet Viveiros, Lisa A. Sturtevant, National Housing Conference

Health workers are a vital piece in providing healthcare to the nation, but with rising housing costs, they are finding it hard to live in a safe, affordable place that allows them to effectively do their job and serve their community. This article explores five types of healthcare jobs, ranking them from lowest to highest income: home health aide, medical billing clerk, medical records transcriptionist, case manager, and geriatric nurse. Affordable housing is difficult to find in the cities where the market for these jobs is steadily growing. Home health aide jobs, for instance, are growing by 49%, and in many metro areas, these workers would need to pay 60% of their income in housing in order to be able to find a place to live. Even case managers and geriatric nurses who can afford to rent, cannot afford to buy homes in at least 50 of 210 polled metro areas. Unaffordable housing means that these workers either have to leave the metro area with an aging adult population and its growing job market, or they make sacrifices. Sometimes the sacrifices are their own homes, basic necessities, and even their own healthcare. There is already a growing shortage of health workers and the lack of affordable housing intensifies the inability to sustain these health workers. These workers’ ability to find housing near their jobs greatly impacts the health and well-being of our communities.

Paseo Verde: Childhood Wellness through Healthy, Affordable Housing

How Housing Matters, MacArthur Foundation and Urban Land Institute

Maya Brennan, How Housing Matter Conference 2014

In Philadelphia, a revolutionary new green housing community may change how housing is linked to health. Much of the housing in the area has poor air quality and crime, two huge threats to a child’s physical and mental health. To combat this, the Paseo Verde housing community was built focusing on the health and safety of its renters. Paseo Verde is a mixed-income, multifamily rental property that uses sustainability to keep utility costs low and air quality high. It contains a convenient on-site health center and pharmacy to address tenants’ and the surrounding community’s health problems such as asthma, diabetes, and hypertension, as well as educating them about healthy living. In addition, a safe space has been developed in order to promote the need for physical activity in children and adults without the mental stress from the fear of crime. Green housing could be the next step to creating more health-conscious affordable housing.

America in 2015: Bridging the Access Gap for Healthier Amenities

Trisha Riggs, Urban Land Institute

The built environment should not hinder living a healthy lifestyle for renters, but for too many young Americans and people of color, it does. Access to healthy food, transportation (such as bikes), and a safe outdoor space for physical activity is minimal and therefore create barriers to health. Urban areas are the prime location for jobs, but their lack of affordable housing displaces people of color and millennials to neighborhoods with higher crime rates that prevent safe and healthy amenities and result in a poorer quality of life. In the new Urban Land Institute report for 2015, 87% of Americans considered the quality of environment a priority, 73% considered access to healthy food a high priority, and 50% of Americans wanted pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods. The environment in which one lives is key to achieving a satisfying quality of life, including health. However, discontent over quality of life has begun to surface because the gap between what groups want and what they can afford is growing rapidly, and this gap is putting health at risk.