ICYMI: Inadequate Housing Contributes to Low Health Rankings

Almost one out of five U.S. families live in housing with severe problems, such as overcrowding, insufficient cooking and bathing facilities or costs above 50% of family income, according to a new report measuring the nation’s healthiest and least-healthy counties released last week. More from USA Today:

Housing was one of several new measures in this year’s County Health Rankings & Roadmaps. They also included commute time, access to exercise opportunities and injury-related deaths. In New York’s Bronx County, 37% of residents face housing issues, according to the rankings. This month, the Bronx topped the state comptroller’s list for having the most people — 57% — who paid more than 30% of their incomes toward rent. The Bronx, which is part of New York City, was last of New York’s 62 counties. “It sounds like it could be the 1800s or a Third World country,” said Abbey Cofsky, senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which partnered with the rankings program at the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. “But there are places in the United States where that is still an issue — something that so many of us take for granted.” This year, the rankings’ fifth, researchers found: •About 76% of workers drive to work alone, in part because of limited public transit systems and neighborhoods without sidewalks or safe crosswalks. This contributes to obesity and pollution. •About 30% of commuters drive more than 30 minutes each way to work — mostly in the East. This contributes to traffic accidents and personal stress. •About 59 people per 100,000 die from an unintentional or intentional injury each year, but in healthy counties, it shrinks to 49 people, and in about 10% of U.S. counties, it grows to 105 people. •About 77% of people have access to exercise opportunities, such as a park or recreation center, but in the worst counties, only 19% of people do. The rankings compare health and well-being markers in the healthiest and least-healthy counties in each state. By doing so, organizers hope to spark conversations and partnerships to provide better access to health care, education, housing and recreation as communities look at well-being as a whole.

Read the overview of Vermont from this report here.

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