When families pay and spend a high proportion of their earnings on housing, they are often forced to reduce spending on food, medical care, and prescriptions. BARHII works toward making housing affordable for many different income families to improve health. This work includes supporting local efforts for affordable or supportive housing.

Over the past two decades, BARHII has been supporting Bay Area public health departments to address health inequities through a range of initiatives towards healthy communities.  The critical housing challenges has demanded BARHII engagement in an assessment of the issue and the development of broad public health partnerships for strategic solutions.  Reflecting upon the scale, strength and knowledge of the health sector, we are exploring regional housing solutions driven by the leadership of our health agencies and hospitals.

Legislative Policy Platform

In February of 2016, BARHII dove deep into the housing issues that are re-shaping the Bay Area. We created BARHII’s first brief on Housing Affordability, Displacement, and Health with the goal of shaping a housing future that promotes health equity.

When housing costs require increasingly high percentages of a family’s budget, families are forced to make choices that create unhealthy tradeoffs. Families forego medical care or prescriptions, live in substandard or overcrowded housing, or move farther and farther away from the Bay Area’s job centers. More information about all the mental and physical health impacts of long commutes, financial stress, and displacement are included in the brief itself.

The brief suggests several strategies to ensure a healthy, affordable Bay Area including protection of existing residents, preservation of existing housing, production of new housing, participation of residents and community leaders, and placement of housing near transit, jobs, and amenities. BARHII is committed to continue to work on housing affordable and to ensure that housing is shaped for health.

Health Disadvantage Index Local Housing Policy Menu

In an effort to examine all the different policies that can lead to affordable housing, BARHII and our sister organization, the Public Health Alliance of Southern California, created the Health Disadvantage Index Local Housing Policy Menu. Using data from the California Health Disadvantage Index (HDI), a composite index that identifies cumulative health disadvantage in California, this menu details various policies that can be used in local jurisdictions to help address the housing crisis across California.

For more information about the Health Disadvantage Index, please visit the Alliance’s website here.

Healthy Planning Guide

The Healthy Planning Guide is intended to help public health and planning departments collaborate on strategies to promote healthier communities. Each page links health risks to aspects of the built environment, outlining ways to ensure that neighborhoods are designed to support health equity and community well-being.

Growing evidence demonstrates a strong relationship between our health and the environments in which we live. The way our neighborhoods, streets, and homes are designed affects whether children can play outside and walk to school, whether families can access basic goods and services, and even whether neighbors can socialize and look out for one another.

Our neighborhoods are shaped by specific policies that guide development and, consequently, our well-being. The disproportionately high rates of chronic disease among residents living in high-poverty neighborhoods — often disproportionately residents of color — can be linked to many aspects of the built environment, including access to healthy foods and physical activity, quality affordable housing, and transportation options.

Health inequities frequently reflect the socioeconomic divide between poor and affluent neighborhoods: a recent San Francisco Bay Area report showed that residents in poor neighborhoods can expect to live at least ten years less than those living in other areas (see Health Inequities in the Bay Area).

The Healthy Planning Guide was developed to help public health departments engage in the planning process and work with planners to develop policies that can create healthier environments and support health equity. The information is organized according to key risk factors, highlighting some associated health outcomes and how they relate to the built environment. For each major risk factor, we suggest policies to consider in the planning process and ways for public health professionals to get involved. We also list a cadre of public agencies and community partners for potential collaboration on policy solutions.

A companion document, the Physical Environment Agency Resource, provides additional information on public agencies, their structure, and the decision-making process so that public health departments can influence policy solutions to support community health infrastructure and health equity.

This guide is designed to be illustrative, not exhaustive, providing a broad overview of development strategies for healthier communities. For more information about the connections between planning and community health, see www.healthyplanning.org.

Health Equity and Community Reports

From 2009-2011, the BARHII Community Committee conducted qualitative assessments in seven local health jurisdictions to explore local priorities in health inequities and social conditions as well as highlight best practices and lessons learned related to (1) public health department and community agency collaborations and (2) how health inequity concerns are being addressed by both health departments and community agencies in the Bay Area.

The following reports summarize the 39 focus groups conducted and describe the perspectives of both health department and community agency staff on the following key themes that emerged:

  • Relationship building

  • Community engagement

  • Community capacity-building

  • Data collection and sharing

  • Partnership and collaboration development

  • Accessible community-based services

  • Upstream practices and policy change

  • Role of public health

  • Leadership support for health equity efforts

The findings in these reports can assist local health departments and community agencies in working together to implement common-goal strategies to improve health equity and the quality of life of all their residents.

Please reload