Up to 80 percent of our health outcomes can be attributed to where we live, work, and play—and for many of us that means that our homes significantly impact our overall health.
During the past few weeks, National Healthy Homes Month has served as a recognition of the important role that housing plays in our lives. Looking back at the last decade, the connection between health and housing, and its relevance across sectors, has steadily increased on a national scale. In 2007, the National Institutes of Health cited a growing evidence base that called for multifaceted, comprehensive approaches to really make a difference in reducing allergens in the home and reducing asthma rates. The Surgeon General made a similar call in 2009. And in 2011, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention supported multi-component, home-based interventions as a way to reduce asthma in children and adolescents, improve quality of life, and reduce the number of school days missed.
As the month has now come to a close, we have reflected on the many health and housing contributions by communities participating in the BUILD Health Challenge. Through multi-sector, community-driven partnerships, these collaboratives are working on dynamic, multi-faceted solutions to improve their communities’ health by improving housing health—and ultimately are helping to reinforce and advance the healthy housing movement. Below are just a few of the exciting health and housing programs that are driving sustainable improvements in community health.
- The BUILD partnership in Cincinnati is focusing on the youngest and newest members of the community – on supporting pregnant women, infants, and young children through the environment, including improved living conditions to help the future of the community thrive.
- In Cleveland, a smartphone app was created to help identify and address lead poisoning in homes.
- A BUILD community since 2015, Des Moines has made significant traction in mitigating childhood asthma. As a result of the Healthy Homes Des Moines efforts, children averaged six more symptom-free days per month, which in turn meant that the number of days parents or caregivers missed work was reduced by half.
- Collaborative Cottage Grove in Greensboro is aligning the local housing system with health, engaging the community to be part of the planning and decision-making process.
- The BUILD partnership in Near Northside, Houston, is building a stronger, safer community – and one way to foster community connection is through increased home ownership.
- In New Brunswick, the BUILD partnership is focused on improving home environments and fostering community connections between residents and organizations that have a shared goal of improved health for all in the community.
- By combing home repairs and community health worker visits, the BUILD partnership in Philadelphia is improving hea
lth outcomes in the short-term, and tapping into policy updates that have even wider-ranging influence.
- Washington, DC is exploring how the legal system and effectively partner with health systems and be leveraged to improve housing conditions to improve children’s health.
Healthy housing is worth celebrating each and every day—our health depends on it. Be sure to check out each of these BUILD projects for yourself, and let us know what you’re doing and learning with healthy housing on Twitter at @BUILD_Health.