27 Jul 2020
July 27, 2020

Homes and Health

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“A safe, decent, affordable home is like a vaccine. It literally prevents disease. A safe home can prevent mental health and developmental problems; a decent home may prevent asthma or lead poisoning; and an affordable home can prevent stunted growth and unnecessary hospitalizations.” — Dr. Megan Sandel, Associate Professor, Pediatrics, at Boston University School of Medicine, testifying before Congress.

Homeownership is a crucial foundation for helping families with low incomes build strength, stability and independence. When families move out of substandard housing and into decent and affordable homes, their health, educational attainment, safety and personal wealth often improve.

Numerous experts and studies have concluded that housing and community both have an effect on a person’s well-being, heavily influencing health and longevity. In our community, families without decent housing are exposed to greater personal and environmental risks, are less nourished, and have less access to health care. Unsafe or unhealthy housing exposes residents to allergens and other hazards like overcrowding.

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.

Habitat knows that the benefits of homeownership are indisputable. Muncie Habitat for Humanity builds and repairs houses using volunteer labor and donations. Our partner families purchase these houses through no-profit, no-interest mortgage loans or innovative financing methods.

A national survey of Habitat homeowners found that 74 percent said their families’ overall health had improved since moving into their home.

More than a house
Muncie Habitat for Humanity has found that building strong neighborhoods in addition to housing — including community gardens, parks and engaged neighborhood associations — helps promote health and reduce poverty in the wider community. To learn more about the 812 Community Coalition check out https://8twelvemuncie.com/.

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