Affordable housing, it’s a hot-button issue in Rochester and something so many struggles with on a daily basis, medical experts from across the nation were addressing the topic in a way we don’t always think about –from a health perspective.
“When people don’t have housing, when they don’t have a place to call home when they don’t have a place to lay their head, number one, their stress levels go through the roof,” said Dave Dunn, executive director at Olmsted County Housing and Redevelopment Authority.
In the past five years, 5,000 housing units were built in Olmsted County, but only 10 percent are considered “affordable.”
“Having poor quality or unstable housing is one of the most potent forms of toxic stress, so what we’re finding is that it really is directly negatively affecting the well-being of people who are living in low-quality housing or have to move often,” said Dr. Douglas Jutte, who’s been studying health as it relates to housing, for years.
“We’ve seen more and more that your zip code, your health depends on your zip code,” Dunn said.
At Mayo’s Transform Conference, Dr. Jutte talked about how health happens in neighborhoods.
“Things like housing, things like access to a park, like grocery stores, good transportation, decent jobs, how are the schools,” Dr. Jutte said.
“How do we help an area holistically with the physical improvements and looking at the people inside,” Dunn said, explaining it’s something the OCHRA has been incorporating.
Dr. Jutte said despite appearances, affordable housing is a great investment.
“There are lots – billions, trillions of dollars being spent on medical care for avoidable, chronic diseases. Some of that money could be spent to help keep people healthy in the first place,” he said.