Affordable Housing’s Influential Women

For Megan Sandel, M.D., MPH, treating a patient admitted with asthma to the ICU where she worked opened her eyes to the effects of inadequate housing.

Sandel, a pediatric resident in Boston at the time, found out that the cause of the asthma attack was the cat the family recently got even though the patient was allergic. The family said it was their only alternative after a mouse was found in the child’s bed and the landlord wouldn’t take any steps to rid the home of rodents.

“It was a eureka moment,” Sandel says. “I wanted to write a prescription for a healthy house.”

She worked with a group of other pediatric residents in Boston and around the country to publish a national report in 1998 on how housing affects child health. Since then, Sandel, an associate professor of pediatrics at the Boston University School of Medicine and a co-principal investigator for Children’s HealthWatch, has continued her research and has become a strong advocate for investment in affordable housing.

Her motto is: “A safe, decent, affordable home is like a vaccine—it literally keeps children healthy.”

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