Friday, January 20, 2012

Housing and Health

Last night I attended the Maryland Legislative Agenda for Women briefing, which is a fantastic event that talks about upcoming legislation that matters predominantly affecting women.  One bill was the Maryland HOME act, which will prevent housing discrimination based on source of income, which matters for women because poverty is very much a women's issue, and women are more likely than men to be using alimony or child support or a public housing voucher to pay for housing.  But one of the most interesting things that was mentioned as part of the importance of the bill was the connection between housing and public health. 

Quoting directly from my briefing packet, which is citing a report in the New England Journal of Medicine, "The report concluded that women who were able to move to areas of lower poverty concentration reduced their risk for diabetes and obesity by one-fifth in each category.  Studies show that a family's zip code and neighborhood are often greater determinants of health outcomes than more traditional factors such as race and ethnicity..."

I think this argument is interesting, but obviously, you can't just move people from poor areas into wealthy areas, because there are too many people.  So while this is interesting, relocating families isn't the solution to our current public health and economic crises.  There is also the fact that often situations of poverty are perpetuated by poor health, lack of adequate health care, or lack of health insurance. 

I'm not trying to offer a solution here.  I'm not even sure what my opinion is, other than that the current economic climate is bad, the health care system is broken, and everything is so connected to everything else that we can't solve any problems in a vacuum.  But everyone wanted more feminism and social policy discussion, so let's hear your opinions on the connections between poverty, housing, and public health in the comments!

1 comment:

  1. That is such fantastic news. Here, in the UK, we have a big problem with people being stuck in poverty because if you're born into a council estate (kind of like projects) you are unlikely to ever leave. There's plenty of social mobility outside of those areas, but once you're there, you're stuck.

    Public housing vouchers sound like a brilliant idea, and enforcing anti-discrimination legislation so that they can be used anywhere is so sensible. If a family becomes less in-need, they can be phased out slowly.