child pulling communal water well lever.

How housing affects health

Healthy housing helps families thrive

Around the world, families without decent housing are exposed to greater personal and environmental risks, are less nourished, and have less access to health care, according to the World Health Organization. As many as 1 in 4 people worldwide live in conditions that harm their health and safety.

Wherever it’s located, substandard and deteriorating housing can contribute to a variety of serious ailments. Respiratory diseases, lead poisoning, cancers from toxic materials, neurological disorders, stress, psychological and behavioral dysfunction. Just one example of how physical surroundings can affect health: It is estimated that as many as 40 percent of asthma cases can be attributed to factors in the home such as molds, pests like mice or cockroaches, or exposure to chemicals.

“Where you live may be your strongest predictor of your health. We are thinking more and more about housing as something that we need to be investing in and supporting to improve the health of our patients.”
— Dr. Megan T. Sandel

A decent, affordable house can have a significant impact on a family’s health. Replacing a dirt floor with a concrete one reduces the spread of respiratory and parasitic diseases. Repairing a leaky roof eliminates mold. Creating access to basic sanitation facilities such as toilets or latrines helps improve hygiene and stops life-threatening disease. Affordability raises a family’s standard of living and relieves the psychological pressure of being forced to make tough trade-offs just to make it through the month.

The place you call home should never threaten your health. Decent and affordable housing help make that difference.

No place like home

After raising her own kids, Carrie has signed on once again for days filled with homework, basketball games, music lessons — and she’ll get to do it all in her own home thanks to a repair program for older homeowners.

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The impact of partnership and advocacy in D.C. 

Shawnee, Tami and Bobby represent three of the 13 families in the Towns at Ivy City development — and 41 in the larger Ivy City neighborhood — that have benefited from an ongoing partnership between D.C.’s Department of Housing and Community Development and Habitat for Humanity of Washington, D.C.

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Safer at home

Habitat homeowner Ingrid’s son struggled daily with asthma in the unhealthy conditions of her family’s rental. They were in the process of searching for a smaller but healthier apartment when Jean and Ingrid received a call from New York’s Habitat for Humanity of Rockland County.

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