Ideas for Action: Housing & Health
Healthy neighborhoods provide a range of housing types — single-family homes, duplexes, town homes and apartments — to suit the needs of diverse cross section of residents. A neighborhood’s housing stock can have implications for the health of its residents. Important factors in assessing the potential effects of housing on health include design, maintenance, location, affordability and conditions in the surrounding community.
- Homes should be designed to support residents throughout their lives. Housing layout is important especially when designing for populations with reduced mobility, such as the elderly or people with disabilities. These populations need wide doorways and alternatives to stairs.41
- Mixing commercial and residential uses (such as locating housing above ground-floor offices and shops) places residents within walking distance of stores, restaurants and other businesses and creates vibrant neighborhoods that promote social cohesion and encourage bicycling and walking for recreation and transportation.
- Inclusionary housing strategies can facilitate the creation of more diverse neighborhoods that contribute to improved social conditions and reduced incidences of crime and violence.42 However, local agencies should carefully craft these strategies to comply with state law and recent court decisions.43
- Providing affordable housing reduces homelessness and overcrowding.44 Overcrowding is directly related to poor mental health, developmental delay in children, heart disease and infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis and meningitis.45
- The number, intensity and length of extreme heat events are expected to increase due to climate change. This makes designing well-insulated new homes and offering programs that can improve insulation in existing homes even more important as part of efforts to protect vulnerable populations.46
- Homes with adequate ventilation, airflow control, moisture reduction and temperature control can reduce respiratory irritants, like mold and dust, and improve indoor air quality, which reduces the risk of respiratory diseases, such as asthma and allergies.47