Stabilize Housing, Improve Women’s Health

by | Jul 26, 2018 | Maternal Health

Where you live, work and play all affect your health. Indeed, research shows that access to nutritious food and safe housing are clearly linked to your health. Study after study shows that programs that combat food and housing insecurity improve the health and well-being of women and families while also helping to address persistent racial disparities in health care.

In government, and sometimes in life, we tend to compartmentalize the challenges we face. But families that are without safe, stable, affordable housing — or without the food and nutrition assistance they need — will struggle even more than others to be as healthy as they can be.

The opposite is true as well. Increasing access to affordable housing improves women’s health and reduces health disparities. For instance, research has shown that stable, affordable housing supports the mental health of women and children by limiting stressors related to financial struggles and frequent moves, and by offering women a way to escape domestic violence. Women and families that live in subsidized housing are more likely than others to have health insurance and less likely to have unmet medical needs.

We also know that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) benefit women’s health by helping them access healthy and nutritious food. SNAP alleviates the food insecurity that disproportionately affects Black families, reduces health care costs and improves infant and child health outcomes. WIC has also been shown to improve health outcomes and reduce racial disparities in infant mortality, among many other benefits.

So, if we want to improve health, we need to strengthen and support programs that provide affordable housing, food and nutrition assistance, and other essential supports. Lawmakers should keep that in mind as they consider cuts to (or work requirements on) those in SNAP, and the Trump administration’s plan to significantly boost rents charged to those living in federally subsidized housing. All these moves could harm the health of those affected.

Read the National Partnership’s new fact sheet, Stable Food and Housing Are Essential to Women’s Health.