Apr 12, 2018, 3:00 PM, Posted by
Inadequate housing is a tremendous barrier to achieving good health—especially when dealing with a chronic illness. A team of researchers is examining largely rural counties in West Alabama to assess the impact of stable housing on the well-being of people living with HIV/AIDS.
We know that where we live, work, learn, and play greatly impacts our health. Especially important among these, and too often overlooked, is the impact of where we live. Housing is tied to health in powerful and inextricable ways. Think about the steps you take each morning to care for yourself, or each evening when you go to sleep. What would happen if you didn’t know where you would sleep that night, or weren’t sure how long you had until you were forced to find new shelter? Would you still take the time to go through your routines, if there was nothing routine about them? Would you set up relationships with health providers if you might not live in the same community next month—or even next week?
I faced homelessness twice and they were the most stressful experiences in my life. Lack of access to stable housing can feel like an insurmountable barrier to achieving good health and well-being—even more so when one is dealing with a chronic illness or other health challenges.
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Apr 3, 2018, 4:00 PM, Posted by
Donald F. Schwarz
Residential segregation is a fundamental cause of health disparities. We need to take steps that will reduce health risks caused by segregation and lead to more equitable, healthier communities.
Editor’s Note: To commemorate the 50thAnniversary of the Fair Housing Act this month, we are republishing a post that originally appeared in 2016. Be sure to also check out the 2018 County Health Rankings which provide updated information on the impact of segregation as a fundamental cause of health disparities.
For some, perhaps the mere mention of segregation suggests the past, a shameful historic moment we have moved beyond. But the truth is, residential segregation, especially the separation of whites and blacks or Hispanics in the same community, continues to have lasting implications for the well-being of people of color and the health of a community.
In many U.S. counties and cities, neighborhoods with little diversity are the daily reality. When neighborhoods are segregated, so too are schools, public services, jobs and other kinds of opportunities that affect health. We know that in communities where there are more opportunities for everyone, there is better health.
The 2016 County Health Rankings released today provide a chance for every community to take a hard look at whether everyone living there has opportunity for health and well-being. The Rankings look at many interconnected factors that influence community health including education, jobs, smoking, physical inactivity and access to health care. This year, we added a new measure on residential segregation to help communities see where disparities may cluster because some neighborhoods or areas have been cut off from opportunities and investments that fuel good health.
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Sep 21, 2017, 12:00 PM, Posted by
What can the U.S. learn from Copenhagen about use of 'placemaking' to foster healthier, more inclusive communities?
One of the most striking cultural symbols upon arriving in Copenhagen is the sheer number of cyclists navigating city streets—in fact bicycles outnumber cars!
But during my recent visit, it was the trash cans that actually caught my eye.
Just as in many U.S. cities, Copenhagen’s citizens can return used bottles and cans for cash. But, unlike other cities, Copenhagen’s trash cans are equipped with small “deposit” shelves on the outside to place recyclables. This provides an easier, safer, and more sanitary way of collecting discarded cans. Instead of digging through trash cans overflowing with smelly garbage and sharp glass, collectors can easily retrieve bottles and cans from these exterior shelves.
A small feature like this speaks volumes about how our public spaces can support social values like dignity and compassion.
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Aug 22, 2016, 1:45 PM, Posted by
As the National Park Service celebrates its 100th anniversary of beauty, recreation, and conservation this summer, we asked six leaders why access to public land is vital to everyone's physical and mental health.
The National Park Service celebrates its centennial this week, and our national parks have never been more appreciated; visitors made a record-breaking 307.2 million visits to them in 2015. But what many park goers may not realize is that the access to natural scenery and park activities national parks provide play a role in improving health. In fact, research shows that using public parks—even tiny local ones in your neighborhood—contributes to health in a number of ways, from promoting physical activity to improving mental health and even having the potential to reduce health care costs.
To celebrate this milestone in American history, the Culture of Health blog's editorial team asked six leaders to give us their reasons why parks matter for health.
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Jul 12, 2016, 4:48 PM, Posted by
Urban planning plays a role in addressing health challenges in America and can help give everyone the opportunity to live their healthiest lives possible.
More perhaps than any place in the world, the New York metropolitan region is known for its urban form—its physical layout and design. From the Manhattan skyline to the neon lights and tourist-packed streets of Times Square to the rolling hills and winding paths of Central Park, New York’s built and natural environment is part of what makes it such a vibrant, dynamic place to live. The distinctive form also has important health impacts. But, as discussed in a new report, State of the Region’s Health: How the New York Metropolitan Region’s Urban Systems Influence Health, these impacts are often poorly understood.
The report, written by the Regional Plan Association (RPA) with support from RWJF, provides an in-depth look at health in the New York metropolitan region, where 23 million people live in cities, suburbs, villages and rural communities stretching from New Haven, Connecticut to Ocean County, New Jersey. It finds that New York region residents live longer than U.S. residents overall, but they are not necessarily healthier.
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Jun 8, 2016, 11:00 AM, Posted by
Pamela Russo, Rebecca Morley
Collaboration between public health and housing sectors can vastly improve the quality of life within communities across the nation.
The house that Robert and Celeste Bridgeford bought in Curry County, Oregon over a decade ago wasn’t just old. It was dangerous. Water damage and thin walls wracked by decades of severe storms unleashed wide swaths of mold. The damaged floors put the whole family at risk of falling, especially Robert, disabled years ago by a work injury. “We had always planned to replace the house, but... then...life happened,” says Celeste.
The Bridgeford family—like a third of Curry County’s residents—lives in a prefab house that is manufactured in a factory and then transported to the site. About 40 percent of the prefab housing in Curry County is substandard. With little industry in the area, many families struggled to find work and couldn’t afford to fix or replace their homes.
This all started changing in 2013 when community groups, non-profits and public agencies joined to propose a pilot project for the state of Oregon. This project would, for the first time, provide low cost loans or other funds to help prefab home-owners repair or replace their homes.
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Mar 29, 2016, 11:00 AM, Posted by
How can streets get people moving and improve health? When they are open, with room for people of all ages to bike, walk, play, and build community.
Every street should be an open street—open to people with and without wheels, all abilities, all ages, all people. Streets belong to everyone. They connect us to each other and the places where we live, learn, work, and play—across neighborhoods, cultures, and economic status.
Streets are the vascular system of our cities and regions. They let us explore and experience our communities and all that they have to offer.
Most of the time, however, they are overrun by cars. At peak hours, traffic clogs the main arteries, automobile fumes foul the air, and blaring horns assault the eardrums.
What if one day a week we all left our cars at home and took to the streets on our own two feet? What would happen?
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Sep 10, 2015, 3:35 PM, Posted by
Cleveland's MetroHealth Medical Center has reimagined itself to embrace community and build in thoughtful improvements to its programs and design that focus on everyday wellness and well-being.
In a room filled with architects, acting Surgeon General Rear Admiral Boris D. Lushniak shook up the common definition of our profession by saying that “if you are an architect, you are a public health worker.”
And many architects were already with him. We have been expanding our thinking beyond typical individual buildings to create healthy blocks, corridors and neighborhoods by shaping what they do within the property line so it’s responsive to what’s happening outside the property line. This in itself is not new, but doing so to improve health and wellness, while leveraging the resources of large civic-minded institutions, is a new approach to a traditional problem.
MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio has taken on this mindful, responsive approach while morphing from an isolated hospital into an inclusive community health center. This process flips the paradigm of health delivery; instead of focusing on the hospital as the first line of defense in the care and wellbeing of a population, it is now the last stop.
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