Skip to content

Housing and Health: New Opportunities for Dialogue and Action


This “concept paper” by the National Center for Healthy Housing is meant to get two community policy sectors to work more closely together: public health and housing.

The report identifies key connections between health and housing, but notes that the two policy sectors mostly operate on parallel tracks without sufficient interconnection and collaboration (except on homelessness policy). The report issues a “call-to-action” for more interdisciplinary efforts around the intersection between health and housing goals to achieve shared objectives.

Key Points

The “concept paper” presents compelling evidence linking housing to health and shares ideas on how to bridge the gap in order to improve the livability of communities for residents of all ages. The report specifically suggests “convening key actors in the health and housing fields to hold a dialogue aimed at clarifying what we know, identifying research gaps, developing common measures of success and useful tools, highlighting promising approaches, and developing actionable steps for taking these approaches to scale” (page 2).

The paper identifies four examples where better collaboration across different agencies and organizations would help communities:

  1. Housing for older adults, who want to age in place, but need access to services, especially healthcare as they grow older.
  2. Affordable, walkable communities, which could help offset the obesity epidemic and resulting increases in diabetes.
  3. Residential stability, beyond the health issues caused by homelessness. Foreclosure, eviction and other instability in housing lead to increases in stress and depression.
  4. Healthy housing in healthy neighborhoods, create environments that are safe and secure, where social and community connections can be maintained, resulting in healthier and happier citizens.

How to Use

Planners and local officials will gain a better understanding of the relationship between housing and community health from this report. It presents a compelling case for organizations to think beyond their own silos to identify a range of potential partners, especially for program funding.

Research published: July 2012

Stay Informed — For Free!

Each issue of the award-winning AARP Livable Communities e-Newsletter contains a mix of inspiring examples, community resources and information about livability efforts from places near and far. Subscribe today!

AARP Livable Communities Newsletter