Stable, affordable homeownership is essential for public health, racial equity, and generational wealth building. And owning a home can positively impact a family’s health and quality of life—in both the short and long term. When a family has a home of their own, they can control the air they breathe, they have space to recover from illness or injury, and they have the security of knowing they’ll always have a place to rest at night.
Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity recently hosted a discussion with local experts on the intersection of housing, health, and racial equity. The conversation was part of our 10th Annual Women of Habitat Hope Builders Luncheon and featured three wise leaders in healthcare in our community. Michelle Robinson, Sr. Vice President of Strategy & Business Development at Vitalant, moderated an engaging and inspiring conversation with Dr. Taj Mustapha, the new Chief Equity Strategy Officer at M Health Fairview and Stella Whitney-West, CEO at NorthPoint Health & Wellness Center.
If you missed the event, you can watch it right here (use the video chapters to jump to the discussion):
We’ve heard countless stories from Habitat clients that owning a home improved their family’s health. In the event video, you’ll hear one of those stories about Angel, who was able to battle COVID-19 last year while safely isolating herself from her children. Other homeowners have described how their new homes helped them breathe easier—no more moldy apartment walls or old carpeting.
During their conversation, Taj and Stella backed up these stories with research and expertise. They shared that housing is a critical social determinant of health—meaning where you live is directly linked to your physical and mental health outcomes.
I highly recommend watching the video to hear all of the amazing wisdom they shared. But if you have just a few minutes right now, read through some of our favorite quotes from their discussion:
“Homeownership is one of the best-researched social determinants of health. Studies have shown that safe, quality, stable, and affordable housing improves health outcomes and decreases healthcare costs.” - Dr. Taj Mustapha
“Clinical care is only about 20% of what impacts health outcomes. It’s the 80% which is the housing, the education, the access to safety [that has the most impact].” – Stella Whitney-West
“Supporting your local policies that promote affordable homeownership in your neighborhood is going to make a significant difference in the health of all communities.” – Dr. Taj Mustapha
"When you have a home, you have the ability to extend that [generational wealth] to other members of your family.” – Stella Whitney-West
“If we don’t focus on housing, neighborhoods, safety, and taking care of our exposure to pollution and environmental hazards, we’re not going to address healthcare disparities. We have to address housing in order to address health.” – Dr. Taj Mustapha
“Having safe, affordable housing is really foundational to the overall health of children and families.”– Stella Whitney-West
From left to right: Dr. Taj Mustapha, Michelle Robinson, and Stella Whitney-West during their virtual discussion
If you're inspired by this discussion and want to make an impact on the health of your neighbors, please make a donation to Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. Your support is critical for families and our entire community.
Learn more about how housing and health are linked in our blog about housing and heart health.