Adequate housing out of reach for many in Washington

In order to rent a two bedroom home in Washington, without sacrificing more than 30% of annual income, one would need to earn $29.31 an hour or have an annual household income of $60,966 according to a recent report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC).

This can be a problem for the 37% of Washington households who rent, yet earn an average of $22.94 an hour — nearly $7 an hour below what is needed to comfortably rent a two bedroom home. 

Someone making minimum wage would need 2.1 full time jobs, or work 86 hours a week in order to afford the rent of the two bedroom home at fair market value according to the NLIHC.

High housing costs can lead to undue stress and sacrifices for necessities that support good health, such as nutritious food and regular health care visits, according to an article from Medical News Today.

 

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Housing, an often overlooked social determinant of health, is a direct contributor to health inequalities and is a major factor in health problems such as chronic disease and poor mental health, says Medical News Today. 

The health factors linked to housing are based on a number of structural and societal factors within the neighborhood. Safety, recreation, access to transportation, nutritious food and employment are all impacted based on where someone lives and the quality of their home, according to a report from the American Public Health Association.

Racial and ethnic minorities are hit the hardest, facing higher rates of chronic disease and premature death that can be directly linked to a lack of or poor quality housing. For example, asthma mortality rates in African American children is nearly eight times higher than in non-Hispanic white children, according to the report.

Struggling to afford basic needs like housing has an incredible impact on one’s health. For children it can be even worse. Living in poverty can negatively affect a child’s brain development, according to this article from Medical News Today. 

Early education is imperative for a child’s social and mental development. Medical News Today says that coming from a low income household can make it harder for children to do well in school, which can create barriers to higher education and employment opportunities.