We know that housing is a cornerstone of a healthy community. People who live in healthy, affordable places live longer, healthier lives. Housing enables people to build roots in a community – get to know their neighborhoods, build a social network of support and become civically engaged.
The San Mateo County Health System helps county residents and workers live longer and better lives. We do this by providing excellent healthcare services; but also work to reduce people’s need for these services by creating healthy places with safe housing, sidewalks, good transit, nutritious food, open space, and a vibrant economy. When we succeed in creating healthy places, however, housing costs tend to increase—sometimes pushing out the very people whose health we are trying to improve.
Research shows that housing unaffordability, insecurity and displacement can impact health in the following ways:
Unhealthy Tradeoffs: When housing costs are high, working families have to make difficult choices.
Mental Health Impacts: The emotional toll of displacement and living with the threat of displacement is significant, affecting mental wellbeing, sense of belonging and community cohesion.
Effects on Children and Families: The health impacts of housing instability are particularly intense for children, causing behavioral problems, educational delays, depression, low birth weights, and other health conditions such as asthma.
Long Commutes, Air Quality, Congestion and Health: Without adequate housing near job centers, many low- and moderate income Bay Area employees must commute long distances to work, worsening congestion and air quality for Bay Area communities.