For most of us, home is a safe and supportive place where our most basic needs are met. Too many in our community, however, cannot say the same.
Without safe, supporting, and affordable housing, many individuals lack access to basic necessities—which has direct, negative effects on health. Housing is one of the most basic and important needs and is therefore a crucial social determinant of health, both mental and physical.
“The social determinants of health are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age.” (WHO). Based on this definition, housing affects each part of a social determinant of health. At a basic level, housing provides protection and safety from external factors (harsh weather, illness, and violence), but it has a larger impact than that.
The Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance studied the health effects of housing through their program Home & Healthy for Good(HHG). In this program, individuals facing homelessness are housed in supportive housing, including case management. After six months, the program resulted in 93% of participants reporting improved quality of life. Also, as illustrated in the chart below, housing is directly linked to a decrease in need for public emergency medical care.
“The decline in public service usage among previously high utilizers is indicative of the important physical and mental health stabilization that occurs in housing,” (HHG). Housing provides stability and safety that the vulnerable in our community do not have access too—especially those families or individuals facing homelessness. The stability a home offers allows these people to be better positioned to make decisions improving themselves and their future, whether that is searching for a job or accessing supportive services.
HumanKind Ministries’s provides just this type of supportive and affordable shelter to low-income and formerly homeless families and individuals through its 112 affordable housing units. These apartments not only provide safety and stability, but they also include wrap-around case management that educates and provides resources for residents to help them address their unique challenges and build brighter futures for themselves and their families. In securing stable housing, our residents gain stability and freedom and are better able to improve their mental and physical health, and overall quality of life.