Link Between Housing and Health

March 19, 2019
Communities where people can afford homes are the healthiest in the nation. That's according to a new study of the healthiest places in the U.S. 
Photo: Unsplash/Emma Simpson

Communities with homes locals can afford are among the healthiest in the nation. That's according to the latest annual county health report by Princeton, N.J.-based nonprofit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

Each year, the RWJF releases its U.S. overall county health report in partnership with the University of Wisconsin. The study analyzes metrics including smoking, poverty, and obesity rates; access to public transit and education, and air quality, Fast Company reports. One of the report's key findings in 2019 is that about 11 percent of U.S. households currently spend more than 50 percent of household income on housing, constituting severe housing cost burden. 

Counties that see in the rankings that housing costs are a burden on residents should pursue initiatives like the 24:1 community to stabilize households in place and free up resources for other key contributors to health, like green space and fresh food. But Cofsky also points to how healthcare practitioners can take a more active role in ensuring housing needs are met. The fact that Kaiser Permanente is funding affordable housing in Oakland, she says, is a sign that the link between housing and health is becoming clearer, and might drive other such investments across the country.

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