Plenary speaker: Rx for homelessness requires solutions grounded in equity

To help homeless families, pediatricians should not focus on equality to make a difference in children’s health outcomes. Rather, they should zero in on equity, according to Megan Sandel, M.D., M.P.H., who spoke at Sunday’s plenary on how affordable housing improves children’s health and future outcomes.

Quality, stability, affordability and location are the four walls that support a healthy home foundation for children, Dr. Sandel said.

Conversely, being homeless is connected to increased risks of injuries, asthma, lead poisoning and high blood pressure for children and giving birth to premature infants or infants with low birthweight for pregnant women, she said.

“We as pediatricians are the best messengers out there,” she said. Rather than focusing on negative messages, however, Dr. Sandel urged pediatricians to advocate for affirmative messages on behalf of homeless and near-homeless families who need more support from their communities.