The relationship between housing and health is more than just the four walls that shelter an individual or family each night. More broadly, the link between health and housing is a result of influences from both the individual home unit and a variety of structural and societal factors within a neighborhood. These elements have the potential to provide safety, recreation, access to transportation, healthy food and jobs to enable Americans safe and prosperous lives.
However, the current state of housing in this country falls short of meeting the basic needs of many, and ultimately, negatively impacts their health and well-being. Specifically, racial and ethnic minorities, in comparison to Whites, in the U.S. face a host of health disparities, including higher rates of chronic disease and premature death that can be linked to housing (or lack thereof).
For example, asthma mortality rates in African American children are nearly eight times higher than in non-Hispanic White children. When observing trends among the negative health consequences linked to housing, it is evident that health equity — and not just health — is a key consideration.
We will examine how structural racism across many sectors led to neighborhood segregation in America; establish the connection between housing, health outcomes and health equity; describe the insufficient housing options for low-income communities; and provide steps that the public health community can take to promote healthy and equitable housing. (author introduction)