This week is a very important week for our country. We are in the final stretch of the historic inaugural enrollment period of affordable health care for all Americans and I have been overwhelmed at the response. Expanding access to quality, affordable healthcare is key to ensuring that people of all ages and all backgrounds are able to have economic security and peace of mind when it comes to their personal lives.
Working in HUD’s Department of Public and Indian Housing, our mission is to make sure people have safe, decent and affordable homes in neighborhoods across the country. We are also dedicated to revitalizing impoverished and low-wealth neighborhoods through various programs, such as HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods program, which focuses not only on the housing, but also on the surrounding community. While some may think of having an affordable home or revitalizing a neighborhood as being separate from maintaining one’s health, it is not. Neighborhood revitalization means access to good schools and quality transportation, which in turn, provides access to stable jobs and better healthcare centers.
The individuals and families to whom HUD provides assistance are among the most vulnerable in our society. The average income for a HUD assisted family is $12,500; too often, they have no opportunity to obtain health insurance because, in many cases, prior to the Affordable Care Act, health care was too expensive for those families. Compared to the general population and other poor households, individuals in HUD-assisted housing have a higher rate of usage of emergency rooms and are more likely to have health problems, such as diabetes, asthma and high blood pressure. Plain and simple, when residents aren’t saddled with high medical bills, they can go to work or school, and pay their rent
The Affordable Care Act can benefit all individuals served by HUD programs, including Section 8 residents, individuals staying in homeless shelters and public housing residents. Meeting the health needs of these individuals and families will help them start a fresh chapter in their lives and contribute to the overall success of HUD’s programs.