Happy World Habitat Day!
We like to carve out space here to highlight good causes. October 4th is World Habitat Day. Habitat for Humanity works hard to advocate decent housing for everyone, not just with the building events everyone’s heard of, but by dismantling the government, social and commercial systems that make slums and poverty housing an unfortunate fact of life across the globe and even here in the US.
Here are some interesting factoids regarding the importance of safe and affordable housing:
Housing improves health
- The number of low-income families who lack safe and affordable housing is related to the number of children who suffer from asthma, viral infections, anemia, stunted growth and other health problems. About 21,000 children have stunted growth attributable to the lack of stable housing; 10,000 children between the ages of 4 and 9 are hospitalized for asthma attacks each year because of cockroach infestation at home; and more than 180 children die each year in house fires attributable to faulty heating and electrical equipment. (Sandel, et al: 1999)
- Children younger than 5 living in Habitat for Humanity houses in Malawi showed a 44 percent reduction in malaria, respiratory or gastrointestinal diseases compared with children living in traditional houses.
- Children in poor housing have increased risk of viral or bacterial infections and a greater chance of suffering mental health and behavioral problems. (Harker: 2006)
- Housing deprivation leads to an average of 25 percent greater risk of disability or severe ill health across a person’s life span. Those who suffer housing deprivation as children are more likely to suffer ill health in adulthood, even if they live in non-deprived conditions later in life. (Marsh, et al.: 2000)
Housing has a positive impact on children
- Children of homeowners are more likely to stay in school (by 7 to 9 percent), and daughters of homeowners are less likely to have children by age 18 (by 2 to 4 percent). (Green and White: 1996)
- Owning a home leads to a higher-quality home environment, improved test scores in children (9 percent in math and 7 percent in reading), and reduced behavioral problems (by 3 percent). (Haurin, Parcel, and Haurin: 2002)
- Children who live in poor housing have lower educational attainment and a greater likelihood of being impoverished and unemployed as adults. (Harker: 2006)
Housing strengthens communities
- Homeowners are more likely to know their U.S. representative (by 10 percent) and school board head by name (by 9 percent), and are more likely to vote in local elections (by 15 percent) and work to solve local problems (by 6 percent). (DiPasquale and Glaeser: 1998)
- Homeowners are more likely to be satisfied with their homes and neighborhoods, and are more likely to volunteer in civic and political activities. (Rohe, Van Zandt, and McCarthy: 2000)
- Resident ownership is strongly related to better building security and quality, and to lower levels of crime. (Saegert and Winkel: 1998)
There are a million ways to contribute, so check some of the links below out and see what you can do to lend a hand. Let’s fix this.
- Habitat for Humanity Web site
- World Habitat Day 2010 resources page
- Government Relations and Advocacy’s pages for Affiliates (Go here for PDF version)
- Ongoing advocacy information and Build Louder updates
- World Habitat Day Handbook
- Shelter Report: Housing and Health – Partners against poverty