CARLOS T. CARTER
This month’s health page focuses on housing shortages and the ways research and data can help address this problem.
How is housing stability connected to our physical and mental health?
When you look at the framework for social determinants of health — which considers all factors impacting a person’s mental and physical well-being — housing is a big part of the equation. If you’re unsure about where you’re going to live daily, how can you be well?
The same is true if you’re living in a home that’s infested with mold, for example, or unfit for human habitation in some other way, or even crowded with other people. There have been many studies that explore the impact of these types of stressful living conditions on physical and mental health. These conditions negatively impact your ability to concentrate, think, and fully be who you are.
Personally, I’ve worked with people who are facing housing insecurity and have seen this stress firsthand. All people need to have consistency in their lives, including a safe and stable place to live at the bare minimum.
What are some examples of how the Urban League might be able to use the HouseCat database?
The Urban League could use HouseCat to examine housing trends and advocate for low/moderate income people who will be impacted by new developments and a reduction in affordable units.
ULPGH could also join coalitions to help folks take advantage of new housing opportunities, clean up credit, obtain security deposits, and ensure current renters aren’t pushed out.
It’s also important to make sure housing isn’t segregated and that lenders aren’t permitted to engage in unofficial redlining or offer predatory loan products to low/moderate new home buyers.
What are ways community members can advocate for stable housing for everyone?
Get involved. Let your voice be heard. Engage with people in your community about affordable housing. Support local initiatives, groups, and organizations that are leading these conversations by volunteering your time and/or talent or by making donations. Vote — but before you do, make sure you understand your candidate’s agenda and viewpoint on stable housing.
Carlos T. Carter is President and CEO of Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh