Regional and Urban Design Committee

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The Regional and Urban Design Committee (RUDC) aims to improve the quality of the regional and urban environment by promoting excellence in design, planning, and public policy in the built environment. This will be achieved through its member and public education, in concert with allied community and professional groups. Join us!

Hosuing and health: How a home can slowly kill

  • 1.  Hosuing and health: How a home can slowly kill

    Posted 05-28-2019 14:26

     

    Thanks to the increasing inequalities in America equity has become a must cover topic in almost every professional gathering. When it comes to addressing the inequities in health (your zip code says more about your life expectancy than your gene code) it has become common to speak about "social determinants of health" (SDoH). The community and the built environment as a determinant of health ropes architects and planners into the health arena in a new way. This article explains why housing is especially important for health.
    Housing as Health Care

    Considered as one of the social determinants of health, housing has garnered a lot of attention as a major contributor to poor health and even death, or conversely, "housing as health care". The body of research looking at health and housing is voluminous and growing.

    Many papers and studies show how housing impacts the health of its occupants: The hazards run the gamut from lead paint to lead in the water pipes to mold, bad climate control, poor indoor air quality and asthma causing rodents coming in through the cracks of poorly built abodes. A frequent cause of injury is simply falls, which shows that the hazards of poor housing conditions multiply with the fragility of the residents. A house with shaky railings, loose carpet on stairs, or other tripping hazards can set off avalanches of poor health outcomes. So can poor indoor air quality and poor ventilation. In fact, it is thanks to ever more sealed interior environments in the interest of energy savings, that indoor air quality has come into focus. Before everybody assumed that it was poor urban outdoor air quality that caused impairments, but now we know that with poor ventilation and modern building materials indoor air can be worse than the one found in busy streets.  Even the good old gas stove is suspected to be hazardous, not because of the well known gas explosions, but from badly managed regular combustion. (There is some dispute about this). Many studies deal with asthma as a housing hazard, for example Indoor Air Pollution and Asthma in Children.
    Baltimore disadvantaged neighborhood

    Housing and health has become of more concern because of the national shortage of affordable housing which has created a veritable housing affordability crisis simply on the basis of cost and supply and demand.  The shortage of housing supply forces poor residents into inferior....

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    [Klaus] Philipsen FAIA
    Archplan Inc. Philipsen Architects
    Baltimore MD
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