NeighborWorks Montana staff participated in a national conversation last week in New Orleans called Connecting Health, Home, and Community. While many of us in the housing industry have long given thought to connections within our communities between housing and other issues, there is a growing movement toward understanding how where we live affects our overall health.
According to a recent report by NeighborWorks America and Enterprise Community Partners, 80% of an individuals’ health is determined by their behaviors and the social and environmental conditions in which they live, work and play. “It is telling that only 20% of our health is shaped by clinical care, while 50% is determined by social and economic factors and the physical environment, and 30% by our individual behaviors.” (https://www.enterprisecommunity.org/resources/on-the-path-to-health-equity)
“In Montana, 13% of households spend more than half of their income on housing costs.” (https://www.countyhealthrankings.org/reports/state-reports/2019-montana-report) Rising housing costs, rental or ownership, certainly don’t leave much room in our budgets for other items such as healthcare and quality food.
Giving thought to budgets and knowing that chronic illnesses are on the rise, how can we restructure our communities to lessen the effects of the stresses causing the chronic illnesses? How do we adjust our lens to the ‘we’ and realize that we all have an obligation to make life better?
It is becoming clear that organizations must collaborate to switch from serving in segments to serving communities as a whole. Offering education and leadership will be vital as we go forward with this movement. NeighborWorks Montana will be watching this closely and giving thought to it in terms of our connections across Montana, and the nation.