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Unstable Housing Directly Impacts Grand County’s Health

September 12, 2019

From a report released from the Colorado Health Institute’s Home Equity Report

Access to healthcare is important, but being truly healthy requires so much more! At Grand County Rural Health Network, we know that having stable housing is a key component to living a healthy, thriving life. A new report that studied housing in communities around the state of Colorado shows a direct connection between housing and health outcomes. You can read the executive summary from the report here.

Grand County Rural Health Network is a member of the statewide Health Equity Advocacy Cohort, which hired the Colorado Health Institute to research and write the report in partnership with members and other stakeholders. The Health Equity Advocacy Cohort is made up of 18 organizations located across Colorado and funded by The Colorado Trust. The goal of the cohort is to build a diverse field of advocates who, together, improve health equity through changes in public policy.

Health equity is a new term – a buzzword if you will. Basically, it means that people need different supports to be as healthy as they can possibly be. This is different than equality. Equality means everyone gets the same supports, regardless of their needs. We can make a difference in policy, which not only creates health equity, it also creates systems changes for the future which means people may no longer need different supports. This image is a great image to understand equity, equality, and systems change.

Today, many of us cannot truly achieve health. Living a healthy life is easier for some people than it is for others because of housing policies that don’t account for our diverse population. The housing instability we see in Grand County is not just happening here. It is impacting people across the state. In the past decade, the average Colorado home price increased 77 percent, researchers found, yet the state’s median income increased just 4.5 percent.

Housing instability is not the fault of any individual—it stems from systemic inequities that were written into public policy and have been playing out for decades. This report details how housing instability has a direct effect on the health and well-being of low-income Coloradans, families with children, people in rural areas, people with disabilities, immigrants, Coloradans experiencing homelessness, and, most significantly, people of color. Even if we didn’t create these problems, it’s our job and our responsibility to fix them.

Grand County Rural Health Network knows that change is possible. We envision a future where more equitable policies benefit everyone. This report outlines 11 promising policy ideas that might be implemented in Colorado. They range from local to state-level solutions and include ways to correct policies that have created today’s inequitable systems. Grand County Rural Health Network supports policies that let our neighbors live their healthiest lives regardless of ZIP code, ethnicity, or income. We also support bring people directly impacted by housing instability, specifically the groups outlined here, to the decision-making table. You can take action today by contacting local and statewide elected officials to speak about one of these 11 promising policies.

For a PDF of the full report, download here.