Is Housing Affordability a Health Barometer?

What happens if you have to work 95 hours a week at minimum wage to afford a place to live?

Even before COVID-19, housing affordability was a challenge.

A national moratorium on evictions was extended until March 31, 2021. Even with those protections, over 12 million Americans owe at least $5,000 in back rent according to Moody’s Analytics.

Meanwhile “shelter in place” directives were not feasible for people living in poor-quality, overcrowded, or unstable housing—or without any home at all. Here we examine how these issues of housing affordability can impact health.

There is no place in the United States where someone working a 40-hour work at minimum wage week can afford a 2-bedroom rental at a fair market rate. The new data from the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s Out of Reach 2020 Report shows how this varies across the country.

There is an important distinction between this data RBU, which defines a modest 2-bedroom rental at 30% of your income to rent versus severely rent burdened RBS, which is defined at 50% of your income to rent.

Regardless, stable housing is foundational to good health.

It is hard to afford much else when a significant portion of a person’s income goes to keeping a roof over their head or they have to work 95.3 hours a week at minimum wage, as in our Wisconsin example.

Inevitably, this impacts many other parts of a person’s life.

Lower wages often force people to work more hours. Examining a chronic condition such as diagnosed diabetes DIA, we find a highly significant correlation between the usual number of hours worked and a diabetes diagnosis.

Type 2 diabetes is considered a lifestyle disease, meaning that you can change behaviors to manage the disease such as altering diet, increasing exercise and eliminating unhealthy lifestyle activities (e.g. smoking, excessive alcohol and insufficient sleep. However, these require time, money and/or the availability of resources.

Examining the usual number of hours worked UHW and exercise EXR also showed a highly significant correlation – the more you work, the less time you have for exercise.

More and more people, impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, face job losses and eviction notices. Stagnant employment and an uncertain economic future will continue to make stable housing a challenge for many, but most certainly for those who are already working hard for the lowest wages.

Metopio’s curated data allows you to dive deeper and examine other factors that impact the housing and health for populations and places you care about. We constant grow and update our curated data sets to offer opportunities to explore a wide variety of topics. Check back often as we access more data and dig deeper to provide you with these valuable insights.

Metopio can help!

Metopio aggregates high-quality, verified data that has some geographic component – think address or any part thereof – to develop insights that inform your business and policy decisions. Do you have data that would enhance this analysis? Want curated data to use in your decision -making? Contact us

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