The Positive Impacts of Affordable Housing on Health: A Research Summary
The Center for Housing Policy recently reviewed the growing body of research on the various ways in which the production, rehabilitation or other provisions of affordable housing may lead to improved health outcomes. Based on this review, they identified nine hypotheses regarding the positive contribution of affordable housing to health: Affordable housing may improve health outcomes by freeing up family resources for nutritious food and health care expenditures. By providing families with greater residential stability, affordable housing can reduce stress and related adverse health outcomes. Homeownership may contribute to health improvements by fostering greater self-esteem, increased residential stability, and an increased sense of security and control over one's physical environment. Well-constructed and managed affordable housing developments can reduce health problems associated with poor quality housing by limiting exposure to allergens, neurotoxins, and other dangers. Stable, affordable housing may improve health outcomes for individuals with chronic illnesses and disabilities, and the elderly, by providing a stable and efficient platform for the ongoing delivery of health care and other necessary services. By providing families with access to neighborhoods of opportunity, certain affordable housing strategies can reduce stress, increase access to amenities, and generate important health benefits. By alleviating crowding, affordable housing can reduce exposure to stressors and infectious disease, leading to improvements in physical and mental health. By allowing victims of domestic violence to escape abusive homes, affordable housing can lead to improvements in mental health and physical safety. Use of green building and transit-oriented development strategies can lower exposure to pollutants by improving the energy efficiency of homes and reducing reliance on personal vehicles.