Advancing Affordable Housing that Supports Health and Wellness
Our homes and neighborhoods have a powerful impact on our physical and mental health, with the potential to exacerbate chronic and acute health problems and cost the U.S. billions of dollars annually. Inferior building practices encourage dust, moisture, mold, structural hazards and many other detrimental design, construction and neighborhood conditions, resulting in housing that is a key negative determinant of health for vulnerable children and adults. The U.S. regulatory system for housing quality is a patchwork of federal, state and local regulations that rarely explicitly address occupant health, nor rapidly respond to growing knowledge of environmental risk factors. These conditions underpin the significance of Professor Dearborn’s study examining the potential of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) to engender healthier housing for those low-income, disproportionally minority, female-headed and elderly households living in the most inadequate and unhealthy rental housing.
During her Center appointment, Professor Dearborn will complete field work documenting healthy affordable housing projects in states where her prior work identified LIHTC policies particularly supportive of location, design and construction features shown to improve occupant health. Her project addresses critical gaps in understanding how highly competitive housing funding mechanisms and associated policies improve housing quality. The project examines the efficacy of state-level housing funding policies to supply healthier housing and develops resources to advance planning, design and development of housing that supports occupant health and wellness.