What Public Health Professionals Should Know about Housing

What Public Health Professionals Should Know about Housing
Health Impact Project
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Focused on a public health audience, an issue brief from the Pew Charitable Trusts outlines opportunities for public health professionals to use health impact assessments (HIAs) to engage with the housing field. Broadly, HIA is a multidisciplinary process that helps decision-makers consider the positive and negative health impacts of proposed projects, policies, plans, and programs through employing quantitative and qualitative data and stakeholder input. As low-income individuals and families are disproportionally impacted by health issues related to housing, conducting HIAs on housing policies and programs that are designed to help these populations can have great impact.

According to the brief, public health practitioners can strengthen their connections with the housing field through various activities, including:

  • Conducting HIA trainings targeted to housing and community development professionals
  • Providing public health expertise during housing decision-making processes
  • Offering expert testimony at zoning hearings or other venues based on HIA findings
  • Educating decision-makers, housing audiences, and the public through private and public meetings as well as conferences
  • Encouraging joint participation by both housing and public health groups in community indicator projects
  • Pursuing joint funding opportunities that catalyze collaboration between public health and housing organizations

A related report, A Systematic Review of Health Impact Assessments on Housing Decisions and Guidance for Future Practice, was jointly published by the National Center for Healthy Housing and National Housing Conference. The report includes a review of 40 HIAs conducted between 2002 and 2013 that directly relate to housing programs, policies, or developments in the United States and an extensive tutorial on housing programs written for a public health professional audience.