October 20, 2011

HUD Study: Better Neighborhoods Linked to Better Health

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This post is also available in: Spanish

A new HUD study published in today’s New England Journal of Medicine is garnering major press attention for offering some of the strongest evidence ever to support what many have long suspected: Moving to a better neighborhood improves your health.

In the 1990s, as part of HUD’s Moving to Opportunity program, the Department offered poor households, many headed by single mothers, the opportunity to receive vouchers to move to low-poverty neighborhoods. Ten years later, the mothers who had the opportunity to move were 20 percent less likely to suffer from diabetes and extreme obesity than their counterparts in public housing who were not offered vouchers through the study. The L.A. Times offers a great summary of why these findings matter:

The research, set up by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, shows that health is closely linked to the environments people live in — and that social policies to change those environments or move people away from blighted areas could be a key tactic in fighting the “diabesity” epidemic.

In fact, Jens Ludwig of the University of Chicago – who authored the study – said environment could be about as important as health care in fostering families’ well-being. “Investments outside the health care system can be really important complements to spending within the health care system,” he said, later adding, “there’s an effect on these really important health outcomes that’s in the ballpark of lifestyle and medical interventions.”

The takeaway is simple: Environment matters. This study’s findings underscore the importance of HUD’s mission. Through programs like Choice Neighborhoods, Housing Choice Vouchers, and Community Development Block Grants, we’re promoting housing as a platform to improve quality of life and working to break the cycle of poverty that robs poor families of a chance to thrive like their more affluent counterparts.

As Secretary Donovan has frequently said, too often, we can predict a family’s overall health and well-being just by looking at their zip code. When high crime renders going outside to exercise intimidating, a lack of grocery stores prevents a nutritious diet, and a dearth of doctors’ offices make healthcare hard to come by, it’s no wonder families in poor neighborhoods find it harder to embrace healthy lifestyles.

At HUD, we believe no one should ever get sick because of where they live. By helping poor families find housing in healthier neighborhoods and by restoring poverty-stricken, blighted areas to vitality, we will continue making sure our nation’s most vulnerable citizens have a home where they can flourish.

3 Responses to HUD Study: Better Neighborhoods Linked to Better Health

  1. Talk about good health and HUD…I live in public housing in Uxbridge , MA . Every day I wake up to another mouse in a mouse trap. For 2 yrs I resided in this particular apt. However I’ve been a HUD resident for 7 plus yrs. I’m a widow and I raising a child by myself. After 2 yrs of out of pocket expenses buying mouse traps I couldn’t keep up with the invaision. Housing just started to give me mouse traps a few months ago and I was told to reuse the mouse traps. My daughter and I have had respiratory problems since we moved into this apt. I have a small dog a little over 10lbs and when I asked the housing director if I could get a cat to at not cost to Housing, he said no, I can only have one pet, though my dog is bred to track down mice and other rodents, he does not catch them. I wake up also each day with mice droppings on my clean counter tops. This is no way for a anybody to live it’s illegal and not right. I was told that they will see what they can do about the rodent problem. I was told I live too close to the woods. I don’t get paid for my trapping of rodents and the rodents don’t help with the rent. And it’s unsanitary to handle mice daily. I can’t afford anymore rubber cloves of wich I have an allergy to. And I want HUD to RESOLVE this RODENT problem once and for all. I’ve had the toilet piping leak down from my bathroom onto my laptop in the livingroom. The stench of urine runs throuh my house the ceilings in my laundry room have urine stains and mouse turds falling from the ceiling. And I was told that there are no leaks from the waist piping in the bathroom. I know I do, and I’m being discriminated against for a multiple of reasons I believe. And if living in affordable housing means people are getting healthier, I beg to differ. The rents go up every year and so does the cost of living. I’m legally blind in one eye and almost a senior citizen, but to serve on a Community Healthcare Board to continue to serve the public. I’m a retired medical secretary and worked for The most reputable Health Insurance in the USA.
    I can’t believe as a citizen born here , 4 generations on one side of my family and 30 thousand years on the Native American side, that I get treated less than a equal citizen.
    Mice don’t assist in paying rent, I don’t get paid to exterminate rodent’s but I have windows that don’t lock , never did, and screen doors that fall off when touched. And I’m told there is nothing Housing can do…I’m a registered voter and upstanding citizen and I expect to be treated like any other Redblooded American.God Bless America!


  2. I just typed a lengthy comment and you booted it out because it was the truth about housing and it’s conditions


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