Over the past two decades, BARHII has been supporting Bay Area public health departments to address health inequities through a range of initiatives towards healthy communities. The critical housing challenges has demanded BARHII engagement in an assessment of the issue and the development of broad public health partnerships for strategic solutions. Reflecting upon the scale, strength and knowledge of the health sector, we are exploring regional housing solutions driven by the leadership of our health agencies and hospitals.
3Ps: Protection, Preservation, Production
Access to affordable housing is a task for which the Bay Area has reached consensus across many sectors. We need to Protect people from displacement, Preserve existing affordable housing and Produce new affordable housing. Towards that end, we have many organizations, public agencies and developers working to address this task in a wide range of efforts ranging from new designs of accessory dwelling units, new local housing bonds, policies to retain existing affordability, or developers’ contributions to navigation centers. Most residents are willing to contribute to the solutions. However, the solutions are not matching the scale of the problem in the Bay Area. We need $400 million per year to Protect 300,000 low-income renter households; $500 million per year to preserve 65,000 affordable homes; and $1.4 billion per year to build 13,00 new homes. (Ending the Bay Area Housing Crisis, CASA)
Health Sector Strengths
The health sector has a grounded approach to the housing insecurity impact on health and is well positioned to elevate housing solutions at a regional scale given its current strengths:
Economic Strength: Professional services, Transportation and Utilities, and Health and Education are the largest sectors in our regional economy. Out of those three Health and Education have shown the highest and most consistent job growth.
Comprehensive Development Approach: The health sector has already engaged in various initiatives that recognizes housing solutions as an essential dimension of healthy communities.
Equity Practices: The health sector has developed a matured platform on social equity that addresses the needs of our disadvantage communities and the challenges of our middle-income families.
Knowledge and Innovation: The health sector has been a source of new knowledge that has high social value. This knowledge is now being expanded to incorporate access to housing as part of the Whole Care Person pilots or the Corporate Supportive Housing.
Building Collective Housing Solutions
As a coalition of Public Health Departments, BARHII has been building a foundation based on community participation in regional housing policies, communities of practice for integrating housing and health, trainings on race and equity trainings, and implementation of anchor institution strategies. Through these learning processes and partnerships, BARHII has identified three potential complementary paths to contribute to healthy living conditions, institutional practices, and social equity at a regional scale.