We are strategists who can help you advocate for policies that leverage the multiple dimensions of the built environment to eliminate disparities and create communities where everyone can thrive.
Housing is included in multiple calls, tools, and policies at the global, national, and state levels to create healthy neighborhoods and communities. Home interiors however, are largely absent from consideration. Below, we outline a few of these initiatives to illustrate the opportunities that exist for incorporating home interiors into policy decision-making. For a more detailed elaboration see The Right To Home Appendix.
World Health Organization
National Center for Healthy Housing
National Prevention Council
In the National Prevention Council’s Action Plan (2012) the “Elimination of Health Disparities” strategic direction speaks about opportunities for healthy living (e.g., access to parks, grocery stores, and safe neighborhoods) (p.22). “Healthy Eating,” which is part of Priorities (pp.29-31), does not refer to housing at all, even though the house is where many decisions of what to eat and how to prepare meals are made.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Built Environment Assessment Tool focuses on exterior features at the neighborhood level: infrastructure (such as road types and public transportation), walkability (such as access to safe, attractive sidewalks and paths), bikeability (such as the presence of bike paths), recreational sites and structures, and food environment (such as access to grocery stores and farmers markets).
National Action Plan for Child Injury Prevention
The CDC’s National Action Plan for Child Injury Prevention touches on some interior features of home environments, asking for example: are there gates in the appropriate stairways and doorways (p.2)? Do you leave food unattended while it is cooking and the child is in the room (p.4)? And, is the television secured to the wall or other furniture (p.5)?
The MacArthur Foundation can be more specific on how home interiors impact well-being as its report argues that “The disparities are linked because where you live offers access to what makes you healthy or unhealthy, from housing without lead or asthma triggers to grocery stores with fresh vegetables, to parks and sidewalks, and access to jobs.”
Minnesota Department of Health
The Minnesota Department of Health’s (MDH) Advancing Health Equity in Minnesota – Report to the Legislature calls for a comprehensive approach to achieving health equity that includes housing. Its focus is home ownership due to the significant segregation in Minnesota’s neighborhoods and disparities in home ownership, which prevents people of color from the multiple benefits associated with home ownership, including having a source of financial stability that facilitates school performance and health.
Minnesota Student Survey
The Minnesota Student Survey asks questions about activities, experiences and behaviors, tackling topics such as tobacco, alcohol and drug use, school climate, physical activity, violence and safety, connections with school and family, and health. Nutrition for example, tackles consumption of milk or sodas (p.12), leaving out factors related to the built environment.
Project EAT study
The Project EAT study asks: “During the past seven days, how many times did all, or most, of your family living in your house eat a meal together?” (p.10) or “In my family, it is important that the family eat at least one meal a day together” (p.13) and “In my family, we don’t have to eat meals at the kitchen/dining room table” (p.13). The survey also looks at identifying impediments to family meals, including difficulty to find a time to eat together, different schedules, and having access to adequate food. Adding questions that challenge assumptions such as that all families have a place to sit together and share a meal will establish the place-related factors that can impact how and when one eats.