Is Affordable Housing Good For Public Health? A New Study Says It Could Be

By Ally Schweitzer: For Complete Post, click here…

The socioeconomic benefits of affordable housing are well-documented.  Research has demonstrated that increased access to affordable housing is the most cost-effective way to both reduce childhood poverty and increase economic mobility. 

But what about its positive effects on health? 

That question is at the center of a new peer-reviewed study by two professors at George Washington University, who set out to examine the relationship between cardiovascular health and a particular kind of affordable housing policy known as inclusionary zoning.

Local jurisdictions including D.C., Montgomery County, Arlington County, and Fairfax County have inclusionary zoning programs. The rules vary by locality, but they generally require developers of new multifamily buildings to set aside a certain number of units for housing that’s affordable to low-income residents. Or, they pay to create them somewhere else.

The study, published last month in the journal Circulation, shows a link between heart health and inclusionary zoning across the hundreds of U.S. jurisdictions that have policies on the books. In those places, residents overall had “uniformly better” cardiovascular health outcomes, including lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and lower rates of prescribed blood pressure medication, it says.

The association held up even when researchers accounted for other factors that could contribute to better heart health, says co-author Gregory Squires, a professor of sociology, public policy and public administration at GW.

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