Re-energizing the Connections between Health and Affordable Housing: A Regional Strategy for Coordination and Implementation
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Drawing a connection between quality housing, housing affordability, neighborhood attributes and community health is not a fundamentally new concept. Early housing standards implemented across cities during the industrial revolution concentrated interventions on slum housing around factories. During this era, the public health movement and the planning of urban housing held common roots in improving sanitation to mitigate adverse health outcomes generated through squalid housing conditions. While early successes in coordinating housing and population health efforts led to the control of diseases like cholera and tuberculosis, the two disciplines are now generally separate and uncoordinated. In 2010, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outlined a guiding strategy to articulate the Affordable Care Act’s goal of enhancing community health outcomes. The resulting document, the National Prevention Strategy (NPS), encompasses a compilation of academic research and best practices promoting the theme “health in all policies.” The NPS uses evidence based findings to reframe the relationship between population health and the built environment as co-reliant. The strategy once again invites urban planners and public health practitioners to collaborate across disciplines to enhance positive community health outcomes through prevention based practices. Housing and health form an integral and historic link across these two professions. Even so, adverse health outcomes are still linked to poorly planned housing investments. Therefore, getting serious about improving health through better planning of the built environment requires analysis on how investments in affordable housing can forward community health goals at a regional level. This research explores how the theme “health in all policies,” can be introduced and implemented across the Eugene-Springfield region’s affordable housing initiatives and projects. Specifically, this research explores how the Eugene-Springfield Metropolitan region can incorporate health elements and indices into affordable housing plans, initiatives, and investment strategies.