What if doctors could write prescriptions for adequate housing? More than anything else, it might improve a person’s overall health

Originally posted on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

A study by Children’s HealthWatch in Boston estimated that housing instability among families with young children will result in $111 billion in avoidable health care and special education costs nationwide over a 10-year period.

The study estimated that 10.2 million children and their families in 2016 could have avoided preventable health conditions had they been in safe and stable housing.

Physicians, advocates and others working to draw attention to the disconnect regularly state that “housing is health.”

Lead poisoning — which can cause permanent brain damage in young children — is the most obvious example of the effect of substandard housing. Another is exposure to mold, dust mites, cockroaches, mice and other triggers for children and adults with asthma.

Moving from place to place, particularly for children, also has long-term consequences. Young children whose families move two or more times in a year are at risk of poor health and developmental outcomes, according to multiple studies.