Public health concerns were the original driver of government intervention in New York City’s housing stock.

This plan will enable New York City to take steps in addressing longstanding health disparities and disrupt the standard of zip code and race as being key predictors of health. Through a health-based housing policy, this Rx for Housing plan will ensure that all New Yorkers can live healthy lives.

May 2021

Today, housing policy still plays a role in addressing illnesses such as asthma, lead poisoning, and others. However, as medicine has progressed, housing policy has increasingly shifted away from a focus on health. As medical technology has advanced and become more specialized, we have become focused on improving health outcomes primarily through biomedical breakthroughs. As a result, the role of modern housing policy has largely shifted away from a focus on infectious diseases and overall health. Instead of using housing policy to address underlying social and environmental factors that can prevent the spread of illnesses and promote health and wellness, we increasingly rely on healthcare systems to provide care and engineer cures.

By not fully leveraging a health-based housing policy, the City is missing an opportunity to address ongoing health disparities.

Currently, the overriding determinant of health for New Yorkers is their zip code. Given the severity of segregation in our city, race and place are deeply intertwined. In examining health outcomes, the city’s racial health disparities are evident: communities of color suffer worse health outcomes than White communities. Low life expectancy, asthma and asthma hospitalizations, diabetes, maternal and infant mortality, and COVID-19 mortality are among the health outcomes that communities of color experience at worse rates. Healthcare providers are critical to reducing these disparities, but housing policy is crucial as well.

Housing and health policy are inextricably linked. CHPC’s Rx for Housing Plan directly embraces that relationship and explores how New York City’s next housing plan could address health disparities by prioritizing metrics that measure health outcomes, harnessing the power of housing policy to help New Yorkers build a healthy life.

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Rx for Housing: Housing is Healthcare is part of A New Lens for NYC’s Housing Plan, CHPC’s research and education initiative to explore how New York City’s next housing plan could have a broader impact beyond counting units. The next housing plan provides an opportunity for communities and policymakers to widen the discussion, articulate new metrics, and develop a shared vision of housing policy for the city.

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