Long before the coronavirus began to impact daily life, we at Habitat knew how important it is for families to have somewhere decent to live. Now, staying at home and staying healthy is even more critical, to prevent the spread of COVID19 in our communities. But people are not going to stay safe at home if the home just isn’t … safe.
In older housing, dampness and mould are common problems where ventilation is poor. Structural safety, and termite, insect, and rodent infestations can also occur, while overcrowding can be a permanent problem. These poor conditions can lead to many health concerns, like asthma, wheezing, headaches, tuberculosis, and meningitis. Common household hazards, fire, and accidents are also more frequent in poorly-built and maintained homes, and are more likely to happen in more deprived neighbourhoods. Poor housing can also increase the risk of long-term illness or disability.
Further, when you are living under the stress caused by poverty, it can be much harder to make healthy choices and get access to adequate healthcare. High housing costs can also prevent our families from meeting their basic needs, such as utility bills or buying enough and healthy food, which can also worsen ill health.
Finally, there is also an important connection between mental health and debt, such as rent arrears. Shelter UK’s 2017 nationwide survey found that 1 in 5 adults who sought support from doctors and health centres suffered mental health issues (depression, anxiety, stress, sleeping problems) due to housing problems. In this study, the most frequently cited reason for mental ill-health was the lack of affordability of their homes.
Physical health, communicable diseases, preventative health actions, mental health concerns – all impacted significantly by poor housing and shelter conditions. This is why we build at Habitat – when our Homeowners take proactive action, the entire country benefits from more efficiently-managed public health care costs and increased productivity through fewer sick days. To find out how you can contribute to better health care for all our citizens, explore our site or contact firstname.lastname@example.org