Housing and Health: Effective Collaborations

Already 2014 has seen some great events in London, with others planned, linking housing and health and identifying and helping to plug gaps in our evidence base.

A Joint Voluntary Sector Learning Event on Health and Housing in January drew together a range of housing and health speakers who raised several issues of interest to environmental health, including housing conditions, fuel poverty, housing and health needs of older people and children as well as health inequalities in the private rented sector. The Race Equality Foundation website provides access to evidence-based briefing papers with research and good practice examples. Discussions at this event highlighted other evidence bases, including the National Housing Federation partnership hub

Last week, Crisis and Shelter jointly launched their Lottery Funded study: A Roof Over My Head: The final report of the Sustain project (Sustain: A longitudinal study of housing outcomes and wellbeing in private rented accommodation). This is of fundamental interest to environmental health. Amongst other things it highlights the sector’s ability to accommodate the needs of homeless households and helps plug some gaps in what happens to families living in this sector by tracking experiences and wellbeing of 128 people who had been re-housed in the private sector following a period of homelessness. The numerous findings will not come as a great surprise to those working in environmental health and housing, including problems with conditions, costs, unsupportive landlords and length of tenancy and the ongoing trauma of feeling insecure without much hope that this might change, affecting confidence and anxiety. The complexity and combination of these factors has led to a constant struggle for tenants with a profound effect on their wellbeing, particularly for already vulnerable people with very few options or choices.

In another event last week led by the National Housing Federation, Public Health and Housing: A Pan-London Summit, sought to further integrate the new public health roles and responsibilities. It drew together a range of interested parties to think through issues including around commissioning housing and public health services through enhancing opportunities in Joint Strategic Needs Assessments and Health and Wellbeing Boards; developing safer neighbourhoods and mental wellbeing; and supporting tenants into employment.

Combined, these events have helped confirm a dynamic and committed workforce committed to addressing housing and health inequalities and looking for new ways to develop rigorous and evidenced ‘housing offers’ (more to follow on this another time….) that might attract further resource within the new public health structures.

Jill

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