Washington, DC, Aug. 23, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — As overall housing availability and affordability plummet at a record pace across the United States, millions of renters face skyrocketing rents, to unhealthy living conditions and the threat of eviction. A new report from CityHealth, an initiative of the Beaumont Foundation and Kaiser Permanente, outlines three policy solutions that can help increase affordable housing and improve health and racial equity: affordable housing trusts, sound rental housing and legal support for tenants.
“Having a home is essential to living a healthy, full life – but across the country, many residents face a myriad of challenges that can make affordable, safe housing out of reach,” said Katrina Forrest, JD, co-executive director of CityHealth. “CityHealth’s policy solutions aim to help local leaders address the housing crisis and address critical health disparities in their communities by preserving and expanding affordable housing, proactively mitigating conditions that may lead to poor health and protecting tenants at risk of eviction.”
Today, one out of four tenants, or 10.9 million people, devotes more than 50% of their income to housing. More than 500,000 people are homeless every night. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, America is nearly 7 million short of affordable homes – for every 100 families most in need, only 37 affordable homes are available. Poor health outcomes associated with housing costs, neighborhood quality, stability, and context are far more likely to affect people of color as well as low-income and vulnerable populations.
“Simply put, having a safe and stable place to live is essential for good health. All aspects of housing – including opportunity and accessibility, affordability, security and stability – are linked to health,” said Catherine D. Patterson, MP, Co-Executive Director of CityHealth. “Policies that promote access to flexible sources of funding for tenant and landlord needs, proactive tenancy inspection systems, and guaranteed legal representation for tenants facing eviction can solve major problems and benefit everyone. health.”
The report explores CityHealth’s three housing-related policy solutions that cities can adopt to increase safe, stable, and affordable housing to advance health and racial equity:
- Affordable Housing Trusts are funds flexibly designed to meet housing needs, including the development of affordable housing, the preservation and maintenance of existing housing stock, home ownership initiatives and the protection of tenants at risk of deportation.
- Healthy rental housing Strategies can help cities preserve and maintain existing housing through proactive inspections that enforce relevant health and safety laws. Tenants, especially those with low incomes, should have equal access to safe and healthy living conditions.
- Legal assistance for tenants policies can help cities deal with the growing eviction crisis by providing a right to counsel, which is a proven intervention that can keep more tenants housed, reduce homeless shelter use, and help tenants who need or want to move to do so in a way that preserves long-term housing stability.
The report also provides examples of cities across the country that have addressed the affordable housing crisis by implementing these policies.
“Safe and affordable homes are the building blocks of healthy communities,” said Bithia Ratnasamy of Enterprise Advisors, the advisory services division of Enterprise Community Partners, who contributed sections of the report. “However, it is not enough to build houses. Policies, processes and practices must be in place to ensure we preserve housing affordability, keep homes safe and resilient, and put equity first.
Tenant protections, such as the right to an attorney, help keep community residents in their homes or achieve long-term housing stability. Faced with an eviction, on average, only 3% of tenants are represented by a lawyer in eviction proceedings compared to 81% of landlords. Unrepresented tenants are typically evicted from their homes and face a host of potential adverse consequences, such as homelessness and incarceration, loss of employment or child care, physical health effects and mental illness, negative eviction records that make it difficult to get new housing and pay more eviction-related costs.
“The loss of his home has implications for his current and future financial stability and well-being for years to come,” said John Pollock of the National Coalition for the Civil Right to Counsel. “Eviction is a complex process inaccessible to unrepresented tenants, and by implementing a right to counsel, cities can exemplify their commitment to improving community health and reducing health disparities.”
All of these policies are part of CityHealth’s Policy Solutions 2.0 package that the initiative will use to assess cities in 2022. Learn more about CityHealth’s housing policies and case studies by downloading the report here.
CityHealth, an initiative of the de Beaumont Foundation and Kaiser Permanente, works to advance a set of proven policy solutions to ensure that all residents of our largest cities have access to healthy choices. Working with visionary urban leaders, CityHealth helps cities adopt policies that can make their communities healthy and address critical health disparities — now and decades later. Learn more at cityhealth.org.
Company Community Partners is a national non-profit organization that exists to make good housing possible for the millions of families who don’t have it. We support community development organizations on the ground, pool and invest capital for impact, advance housing policy at all levels of government, and build and manage communities ourselves. Since 1982, we’ve invested $54 billion and created 873,000 homes in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, all to make homes and communities places of pride, power and belonging. . Join us at enterprisecommunity.org.
The National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel (NCCRC), organized and funded in part by the Public Justice Center (PJC), encourages, supports and coordinates advocacy to establish and implement a right to counsel for low-income people in civil matters that involve basic human needs , including housing. The right to counsel for tenants facing eviction is an important area of focus, and the NCCRC has supported advocates in most of the 18 jurisdictions that have established such a right and are working to implement it, as well than nascent efforts across the country. Learn more at civilrighttocounsel.org.
CityHealth -Tom Martin / [email protected] (301) 660-8759
NCCRC – John Pollock/ [email protected] (410) 400-6954
Company -Jordan Miller / [email protected] (212) 784-5703