Connecting Health Services With Affordable Housing

Housing assistance programs in the United States are falling far short of meeting a growing demand for aid in the years following the recession.

Often, lacking access to other services, low-income people will seek out costly emergency room care for chronic conditions. A report from the Center for Outcomes Research and Education (CORE) on the impact of integrating health services with affordable housing notes that “concerns about keeping up with doctor appointments and medications are far outweighed by trying to pay their rent on time or finding safe and stable housing.”

In the forward to the CORE report, Megan T. Sandel, an associate professor of pediatrics at Boston University, argued that affordable housing programs could act as a convener for less expensive and more sustainable health services for those in need. Sandel wrote that, previously, the connection between housing and healthcare had largely been theoretical; data in the report provide the necessary statistical backbone to prove the relationship. In studying rental-assisted residents in Portland, the report showed that the presence of integrated healthcare services within a housing complex led to a 30 percent reduction in emergency room visits and a 60 percent increase in primary care visits for clients living on those properties.

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