One Truth About Health and Education That We All Need To Talk About

house-jewelry-466051_640Governor Kitzhaber recently articulated: “Oregon cannot meet any of its long-term health or education goals when children are homeless, and Oregon should find the very idea of homeless families to be unacceptable.” More importantly, he walked the walk by recommending a substantial investment of other funds for housing development to the tune of $100 million ($15 million in lottery-backed bonds and $85 million in Article XI-Q bonds).

On a similar track — thanks to the leadership of Representatives Parrish and Reardon – the Affordability, Balance and Choice Workgroup presented a comprehensive proposal to the Oregon State Legislature about how to nurture inclusive and affordable communities (full disclosure: Neighborhood Partnerships was also a convener of the group).

The workgroup proposed concrete solutions that increase funding, decrease the cost of debt, and address land use and cost barriers. (You can read the entire report here).

These efforts are evidence of we all have known for a long time: quality, affordable homes are a key to better health, education and prosperity for our communities.

The proof that a home is good for health and education

We say these things, but I thought it would be fun (because around here research is fun!) to tick off the evidence that supports the statement as a refresher for us all.

I found a nice summary from the National Center for Biotechnology Information on housing’s impact on health. Their review of the research shows that housing impacts:

  • infectious disease,
  • chronic disease,
  • injuries,
  • child development and nutrition,
  • mental health and
  • neighborhood livability.

So basically housing impacts everything we associate with the word “health.” Health and housing might as well be the same word.

Similarly, the Center for Housing Policy reviewed the science on housing’s impact on education. They found:

  • Children who move three or more times prior to turning six years old demonstrate increased behavior and attention problems.
  • Some affordable housing and mobility policies may help families move to communities with higher quality schools
  • Affordable housing can reduce overcrowding and other sources of housing-related stress
  • By helping children avoid the disruptions associated with homelessness, affordable housing can help improve their educational achievement.
  • When families spend less on housing and other expenses that drain their bank accounts they spend more on child enrichment.

Again, housing is in the DNA of successful education.

Housing, Health and Education Are One In the Same

Why, then, do we distinguish between education, housing and health at all? Housing, combined with health and education, offers us something beautiful.

We can call that beauty several names: opportunity, prosperity, success or achievement. We can appreciate that beauty in the smile on a child’s face as she discovers her love for science while doing homework in her new room. We can bathe in that beauty as we watch a young couple healthfully bound down comfortable, safe streets with thriving businesses and well-kept homes.

Just as removing a flower’s petals from the stem decreases its beauty– separating housing from education and health gives us a less beautiful understanding of our communities.

Your Story About the Beauty of Home

Thankfully on March 11 and May 13 we have the opportunity to go to Salem and talk about a beautiful Oregon where people can have safe, quality homes that lead to happy educated kids and healthy, lively families at the Oregon Housing Alliance Housing Opportunity Days.

You can click here to sign up for Housing Opportunity Day.

In part, a large group of passionate Oregonians will be sharing their stories about:

  • How emergency rent assistance can help families turn the nightmare of homelessness into the dream of stability and safety with EHA and SHAP.
  • The precious role affordable homes have in their way of life and how our communities will lose ground if those affordable homes go away without $20 million in Lottery Backed Bonds funding.
  • How having someone to counsel, mediate or provide assistance can bring balance to the frightening prospect of foreclosure as we look to continue the Oregon Foreclosure Avoidance Program.
  • The new doors opened by the Oregon Affordable Housing Tax Credit for residents with low incomes and owners of manufactured homes by reducing mortgage interest rates.

But most importantly, we’ll all be sharing stories about how many of the beautiful and cherished things in life are directly linked to home. Some may take this connection for granted on a daily basis. Others have felt the connection in very real and personal ways. But no matter who you are, when you think about it for a second you start to see the beauty of home everywhere.