Building Healthy Communities: Exploring the Intersection of Housing and Health Equity

Author: Namandje Wali, MHA, Program Manager of Training and Outreach, Health Equity Solutions

In Connecticut, as with many other communities across the United States, the urgent pursuit for accessible and affordable housing resonates deeply. The need for a range of housing options that cater to different personalized circumstances, income levels, family sizes, and more is at an all-time high. We can no longer rely on one-size-fits-all solutions to address systemic problems within the housing system.

Housing is a fundamental human right and plays a pivotal role in shaping broader societal outcomes related to health equity. Health equity means everyone has a fair and just opportunity to attain optimal health regardless of race, ethnicity, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, geography, or any other social barriers/ factors (SHVS). It’s a cornerstone of our humanity, shaping where we physically reside and how we live and grow, the air we breathe, the stress we endure, and the opportunities we’re offered or too often denied. The clear and distinct reality is that housing disparities are inseparable from these broader issues of racial injustice and institutional discrimination. Because of this intricate interplay, The Partnership for Strong Communities has embarked on a journey to spotlight intersectional solutions focused on addressing housing disparities and promoting better health outcomes for all people. In collaboration with The Partnership, Health Equity Solutions and the Yale Housing and Health Equity Lab have had the opportunity to engage in a webinar panel discussion to explore how having a safe and affordable place to call home is essential for everyone to obtain their optimal health.

At its core lies a deep understanding of the intimate link between housing and health. For too long, racism has operated as both an overt and covert force of power, shaping access to housing and driving deep divides in health outcomes. Discriminatory practices such as redlining and housing segregation have left scars that continue to impact generations, perpetuating disparities related to access and quality of housing. For too long, Connecticut has continued to see extreme racial and ethnic segregation in housing. As a preeminent social influencer of health, shaping individuals’ well-being in profound ways, stable and affordable housing is essential for fostering thriving communities. Yet disparities in housing access and quality continue to perpetuate injustices that have historically and continue to disadvantage communities of color.

We refuse to accept this as the status quo. Health Equity Solutions (HES) underscores the importance of prioritizing affordable healthcare to address housing equity. Recognizing the intrinsic link between housing and health outcomes, HES advocates for policies and initiatives that aim to mitigate health disparities. By ensuring access to affordable healthcare, especially for historically and current marginalized communities of color in Connecticut, HES recognizes the potential to reduce the significant financial burdens on individuals and households, ultimately improving housing stability.

We understand the urgency of this moment. It is not just an ask but a call for action. We must advocate for the implementation of equitable housing policies conscientiously designed to support the diverse needs of our communities while directly challenging the embedded structural biases that we live within. We actualize our commitment to social justice, forging pathways toward the realization of comprehensive health and racial equity across the many diverse communities of Connecticut.

Click here to view the recording from our conversation on April 3, 2024.

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Check out the Yale Housing and Health Equity Lab- https://medicine.yale.edu/lab/handh/

State Health and Value Strategies (SHVS). (n.d.). Talking about anti-racism and health equity.

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