On June 8, the Bipartisan Policy Center held an event, “Healthy Homes Equal Healthier Lives: A Discussion with HUD Secretary Ben Carson,” to explore the correlation between health and housing.
Discussion moderator Jason Grumet, president of the Bipartisan Policy Center, asked Secretary Carson his thoughts on how health interacts with housing policy, HUD’s recent rent reform proposal, and the role EnVision Centers will play in low-income communities.
Carson referenced his time as a pediatric neurosurgeon prior to joining the Administration, suggesting that children’s health directly correlates to home environments and describing the blight conditions he often saw. He noted that he works closely with the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary to promote healthier living conditions, specifically citing the effects of lead on child development. Carson said EnVision Centers, currently under development, should become places for low-income residents to gain access to the resources they need in one central location by bringing together the efforts of federal, state, and local governments, as well as faith-based charities and non-profits.
Carson said HUD’s recent rent reform proposal is designed to help individuals out of poverty. He noted the proposal’s rent increases, which would triple rents for households currently paying the minimum rent in HUD-subsidized housing, were no longer necessary due to Congress’ spending increases.
Following the conversation with Carson, a panel of speakers discussed topics including the role of mental health in low-income housing, the effects of gentrification, and how housing and health policy can improve impoverished communities. Panelists included Eileen Fitzgerald, President and CEO, Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future; Donald Moulds, Executive Vice President for Programs, The Commonwealth Fund; and Samuel Ross, M.D., Chief Executive Officer, Bon Secours Baltimore Health System.
Additionally, the Bipartisan Policy Center recently published a report on the connection between affordable housing and health and the partnership between HUD and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The report reiterates the importance of continued collaboration among HUD, HHS, and other federal partners, including the Department of Agriculture, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, and Federal Emergency Management Agency. Working together and incorporating data-driven and evidence-based approaches, the Bipartisan Policy Center concludes the departments are able to improve the health and quality of life of the populations their programs serve.
For more information, please contact NCSHA’s Khloe Greenwood.