Report: Lack of affordable housing will affect your health


AUSTIN (Nexstar) — A new report released Tuesday morning shows a direct relation between the cost of housing and your health.

The County Health Rankings report by the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation broke down 30 factors related to cost of living and health, including poverty, education, transportation and jobs that influence how long and how well people live. Communities are able to use this data to work with different policymakers and community leaders to find initiatives to improve local health.

Researchers found more than 10 percent of all U.S. households spend more than their paycheck on housing. Homeowners and renters spent more than half of their income on housing, the report found.

In Texas, 62 percent of households own their home. The report also found more than 10 percent of Texas households spend more than half their income on housing costs.

“When people pay that much of their income toward housing, you can imagine that there are a lot of other things that you need for health that might have to go to the side,” Sheri Johnson, University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

That includes buying healthy foods and trips to the doctor.

According to the report, in 2017, more than 1,520,000 Texas children lived in poverty.

“Poverty limits opportunities for quality housing, safe neighborhoods, healthy food, living wage jobs and quality education,” the Texas report states. “As poverty and related stress increase, health worsens.”

Experts recommended several strategies to create and preserve stable and affordable housing that can improve economic and social well-being. Ideas include fair housing laws and enforcement, youth leadership programs, housing choice vouchers for low-income households and zoning changes that reduce the cost of housing production.

Of the 244 Texas counties studied, Travis County ranks seven in overall health outcomes and eighth in health factors. Hartley County ranked first and San Augustine ranked 244 in overall health. For health factors, Collin County ranked first and Starr County ranked 244.

In quality of life, Travis County ranked 27. Williamson County had a better score on that measure, coming in seventh on the list but Hays County got the lowest ranking at 74. 

The report breaks down the impact county by county. Check the ranking of your county here. You can also compare counties here.

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