The Hawai‘i Budget and Policy Center today released its final installment of a three-part series on the relationship between health and housing affordability.
Aside from highlighting disparities across health and housing, the report also delved into health care for people experiencing homelessness, and policy solutions for a more affordable housing market.
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“Our housing policy failures clearly result in lifelong harm to the individuals affected, but the damage doesn’t end there,” the report read. “These failures come at a high cost to all of us, and one of the most notable is expensive health disparities.”
Part one, “The Health and Housing Connection,” shows how underinvested, low-income housing often translates into poorer living conditions with correlating detriments to physical health. With the highest cost of living in the country, up to 60% of Hawaii families are defined as economically vulnerable. Research shows people living in low-income housing often have higher rates of high blood pressure, diabetes, and poor mental health compared to people in mid- or high-income housing.
Part two, “Health and Care for People Experience Homelessness,” found that health disparities are exacerbated for those without stable housing. Research also found that investment in permanent affordable housing could significantly reduce health care costs for these communities, which are typically covered by Med-QUEST and other republic assistance programs. One Hawaii-based pilot program estimated over $30,000 in annual savings per participant.
Part three, “Building a Housing Market for Hawaii’s Working Families,” explores the work ahead for affordable housing. There is a current disconnect between housing costs and community needs, the report says. Research shows rent prices increasing by nearly 60% since 2000, while middle-income wages have only increased by 25%.
The report offered a number of policy solutions that would both help people access and retain affordable housing. These include expanding the use of rent subsidy vouchers, Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, and being mindful of the “systematic separation of Native Hawaiians from their ancestral lands.”
The full report is available on the Hawai’i Budget and Policy Center site.