At the end of the day, it isn’t where I came from. Maybe home is somewhere I’m going and never have been before.
— Warsan Shire
We believe a vision of widespread health and prosperity should guide the future of housing and development in the United States. The laws and policies that shape housing markets and guide development have a significant effect on both goals. Decades of research have shown that safe, stable, affordable housing sets the foundation for health. Housing located near good schools, high-quality jobs, healthy food, safe parks, and dependable transportation can ensure communities prosper and thrive.
Yet, housing policies have not been guided by a vision of healthy and equitable communities. Many housing policies have institutionalized discrimination and reinforced economic exclusion, leading to protracted disinvestment. These forces have exacerbated health disparities and made it difficult for local governments and institutions to ensure the health and well-being of all residents.
ChangeLab Solutions’ BLOCK Project is highlighting opportunities local institutions have to create a healthy housing system, as well as limits to local initiatives that may be posed by regional, state, and federal contexts.
We are telling this story by focusing on local institutions working at the intersection of health and housing: hospitals, public housing authorities, and public health agencies. These institutions have the ability to knit together investment and community leadership to improve both housing policies and health outcomes. They can leverage their substantial resources and wide reach.
- Hospitals serve 35 million people in the United States and spend approximately $62.5 billion on community benefits.
- Public housing agencies manage 1.2 million housing units and administer Section 8 vouchers, which collectively provide affordable housing to more than 5 million people.
- The nation’s 3,500 local public health departments are working to improve population health through a variety of initiatives, including collecting data on the effects of unsafe, unstable, and unaffordable housing and supporting the development of healthy communities.
We partnered with three pioneering organizations — the Alameda County Public Health Department in California, the Bon Secours Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and the Denver Public Housing Authority in Colorado — to showcase how each is using housing strategies to improve health outcomes. We’re also drawing on the expertise of advocates, academics, and practitioners from across the country to highlight cutting-edge health and housing concepts and strategies. This “community of practice” will expand our understanding of what is needed to achieve equitable housing policies and meet health equity goals.
By joining the conversation about health and housing, we hope to amplify calls for housing that promotes equity, belonging, sustainability, and health. Using debates, case studies, and action guides, we want to equip local leaders with tools that inspire bold action.
Welcome to the BLOCK!
ChangeLab Solutions’ BLOCK Project is generously funded by The Kresge Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation.