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What We're Reading in Health and Housing, August 17

Welcome to What We’re Reading in Health and Housing. The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) launched a Health and Housing Task Force earlier this year. We are sharing recent publications, speeches and testimony we consider relevant to our work. The views expressed in these pieces do not necessarily represent the views of the task force, its co-chairs, members, advisors or BPC.

Compiled by Nikki Rudnick and Jake Varn

The Intersection of Health and Housing: Opportunities and Challenges
By Alliance for Health Reform

“This briefing, the first in a three-part series exploring the intersection of health and social policy, focused on Medicaid and housing policy. What does evidence say about the relationship between stable housing and health outcomes for various populations? What financial impact can housing have on Medicaid costs, and what potential role can Medicaid play regarding housing policy? What funding sources are state and local officials currently leveraging to provide housing resources? Are there barriers to innovative health and housing approaches?

“A distinguished panel of experts addressed these and related questions:

  • Barbara DiPietro, director of policy, National Health Care for the Homeless Council, highlighted the connection between health care and housing, describe evidence regarding supportive housing and health outcomes, and discuss opportunities on the federal, state and local levels.
  • Jennifer Ho, senior advisor for housing and services, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), explained current federal activities and describe how agencies are collaborating on health and housing efforts.
  • Gretchen Hammer, director, Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing, described initiatives in Colorado to bridge health and housing policy and discuss possibilities and challenges regarding these efforts.
  • Sister Adele O’Sullivan, founder and physician, Circle the City, Arizona, described Arizona’s innovative supportive housing model and identify barriers to this approach.
  • Ed Howard of the Alliance for Health Reform moderated the discussion.”

Read the briefing and presentations. Watch the briefing.

New Hampshire: The One Thing 2016 Presidential Hopefuls Must Talk About
By Scott Brown, Fox News

“If you happen to be running for president of the United States and intend to spend some quality time in New Hampshire over the next several months, let me offer some friendly advice: Be prepared to talk about housing. Housing is on the minds of many folks in the Granite State. The rising cost of housing, the shortage of affordable rental homes, and the waning ability to access the homeownership market are top concerns. These issues affect thousands of families across the state – not just in the larger population centers of Manchester, Nashua, and Portsmouth in southern New Hampshire, but also in the more rural communities in the central and northern portions of the state. The unsustainable housing situation in New Hampshire is a major problem, and one that appears to be growing in intensity and scope every day. In 2013, nearly 36 percent of the 519,000 New Hampshire households had housing cost burdens.”

Read the article.

Leveraging the Social Determinants of Health: What Works?
By Blue Cross Foundation

“Social determinants of health, which encompass social, behavioral and environmental influences on one’s health, have taken center stage in recent health policy discussions. While research indicates that greater attention to these non-medical factors may improve health outcomes and reduce health care costs, translating this evidence into actionable recommendations for policy makers and others has been challenging. This report, prepared by a team led by Elizabeth Bradley of the Yale Global Health Leadership Institute and Lauren Taylor of the Harvard Divinity School, evaluates and synthesizes the evidence base for interventions that address social determinants of health, with special attention to innovative models that may improve health outcomes and reduce health care costs and that may be applicable in the Massachusetts policy context. Based on this review, there is strong evidence that increased investment in select social services (e.g., housing support and nutritional assistance), as well as various models of partnership between health care and social services (e.g., integrated health care and housing services), can result in substantial health improvements and reduced health care costs for targeted populations.”

Read the press release. Read the report.

Breaking the Link Between Unhealthy Housing and Unhealthy Children
By Ruth Ann Norton, Trust for America’s Health

“American taxpayers lose hundreds of millions of dollars annually in medical bills, energy costs and lost wages due to inefficient and unhealthy housing and nearly six million households live with moderate to severe physical housing problems. These hazards increase the risk for illnesses and injuries including asthma, falls, respiratory problems and lead poisoning. Children and seniors in low-income housing are hardest hit by home-based environmental health hazards.

“Extensive research by CDC, HUD, NIH, and others confirm that home-based environmental health hazards that trigger asthma episodes and cause home injury cannot be fixed in the doctor’s office but must be remedied by taking the traditional health care system to the new frontier of prescriptive housing intervention services.”

Read the article.

Franklin Reaches Affordable Housing “Crossroads”
By Jill Cowan, The Tennessean

“At a well-attended summit early this year, Franklin officials and a wide array of residents agreed on at least one thing: The city needs a broader range of housing options. An expert laid out the findings of a 2014 report that came to the same conclusion, saying that most people who work in Franklin don’t live there — largely because they can’t afford to. Business leaders have echoed the calls, saying that giving residents a chance to live closer to where they work will help ease ever-increasing traffic congestion.

“Affordable housing shouldn’t be dirty word, Franklin leaders told. Now, though, after what has amounted to years of talk, Franklin leaders are gearing up to take what advocates say could be some of the city’s biggest strides yet toward a meaningful affordable housing policy.”

Read the article.

Is It Time To Abolish Mandatory Retirement?
By Kerry Hannon, Forbes

“Let’s face cold facts. People 60+ comprise nearly one billion of the world’s population and will total 2 billion by 2050. As more of us move into our sixth decade and beyond, many of us are going to need to and want to keep working — to stay financially secure, engaged and feeling relevant. All of those elements contribute to our good health, physical and mental.

“In the United States, mandatory retirement policies are actually illegal for most professions, though that’s only been true fairly recently. In the early 1970s, about half of all Americans were covered by mandatory-retirement provisions requiring they leave their jobs no later than a certain age, usually 65. In 1986, Congress abolished mandatory retirement by amending the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.”

Read the article.

Portland Should Spend Tens of Millions More on Affordable Housing
By Brad Schmidt, The Oregonian

“Portland officials could spend tens of millions more developing affordable housing in coming years if the City Council heeds a new recommendation from a city advisory commission.

“The bold proposal – likely to set off debate among housing advocates and business interests – would radically alter spending priorities in Portland urban districts by moving affordable housing to the front of the line.”

Read the article.

Where Should a Poor Family Live?
By Thomas B. Edsall, The New York Times

“If its goal is to move up the ladder, where should a poor family live? Should federal dollars go toward affordable housing within high¬ poverty neighborhoods, or should subsidies be used to move residents of impoverished communities into more upscale – and more resistant — sections of cities and suburbs with better schools and job opportunities?

“Three developments this year – an academic study, a Supreme Court decision and a tough new Department of Housing and Urban Development regulation – have challenged existing policies that place the bulk of low income housing in the most deprived neighborhoods.”

Read the article.

How Developers Are Building Smart in a Senior Housing Hotspot
By Cassandra Dowell, Senior Housing News

“While some areas of the country may be overbuilt, there continues to be seniors housing demand in a number of primary and secondary markets. Yet, even in these localities, it’s essential for developers to be selective in where they pursue projects, as there can be both areas of opportunity and some that are not positioned to support a senior living community.

“For instance, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is providing ample opportunities for senior living developers in Wisconsin. But data reveals there’s more to the greater Milwaukee area than meets the eye.”

Read the article.

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