Mental health and the affordable housing crisis | News, Sports, Jobs
The housing crisis in Saranac Lake, Lake Placid and the greater Adirondacks region has made it difficult for many local employees to obtain housing that is within reasonable commuting distance and that commands affordable rent. There was only one reasonably priced apartment in the neighborhood when I was looking six months ago, and I grabbed it.
Anecdotally, I learned that a number of Manhattanites are buying properties in North County and converting them into Airbnbs. These developments could prevent some local workers from obtaining viable housing.
As Abraham Maslow explained in his Hierarchy of Needs, before you can actualize yourself in life, you must first accomplish the basics of access to stable housing and nutrition, as well as the security you he provides. Before the pandemic, there was already a shortage of affordable housing in North County. However, with the pandemic, the shortage seemed to increase.
From the start of the coronavirus pandemic to the end of January 2021, more than 75 million unemployment claims were filed across the United States. The financial catastrophe has therefore affected at least 25% of the American population, which has increased in total to more than 330 million in 2021.
Years ago, in the 1950s and 1960s, the family unit was an integral part of every community. Families are now mostly separated from each other, and the emotional support that maintained the viability of American families has been undermined by a fragmented social existence. It is now evident that people suffering from both job insecurity and housing insecurity struggle to maintain their emotional well-being.
These two variables, job insecurity and housing affordability, represent a double whammy for US citizens with only one source of income per household. What’s worse, according to an October 2022 article from the Adirondack Daily Enterprise that also ran in the Lake Placid News, is that the “North County housing affordability is at its lowest level in 33 years.”
Housing insecurity is an important component of the social determinants of health. The social determinants of health include, among other variables, income, language skills and education, and racial minority status. The absence of these determinants, such as belonging to a racial minority or being poorly educated, contributes to poor physical and emotional health. It is a long-standing public health problem.
Several negative health effects are associated with housing insecurity. These negative outcomes include stress, increased victimization both sexually and physically, increased substance abuse, and increased physical and mental health issues. Variables such as ethnicity, geographic location, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status are characteristics that present barriers to achieving good health. Other characteristics include cognitive, sensory or physical disability.
At least one Lake Placid developer is trying to answer those housing statistics with a new property accessible through a real estate lottery. This should help some North County residents find affordable housing.
In a global research study, an association was found between economic recession and suicidal behavior, particularly among working-age men.
A March 2021 Forbes article estimated that “30 to 40 million people were at risk of eviction in the coming months if the federal government did not intervene.” Biden’s stimulus package provided billions of dollars to help American citizens. The breakdown included $21.5 billion for utility bill funding assistance and rent assistance, as well as local and state government funding to help low-income households who have taken delay in their rent payment schedules. A total of $5 billion each to provide emergency housing vouchers for the homeless and to help those at risk of homelessness. An additional $10 billion has been earmarked to help homeowners pay their property taxes, utility bills and mortgages.
Although clinical care is important to maintaining the health of American citizens, the social determinants of health, which include income and housing security, are actually more powerful in outcomes than the care that the medical community can provide alone. . It should be noted that 19 million households pay more than 50% of their annual income in housing costs. Over 21 million people spend 30-50% of their annual income on housing. It is not sustainable in the long term.
Over the past 30 years, it has been scientifically documented that both children and adults show an independent association between poor health and housing insecurity. Additionally, access to care for adults showed an association between access to care utilization and the extent of housing insecurity. For adults experiencing homelessness, there is a higher rate of emergency room visits and the delay in care that is needed. Aside from emergencies, there is no systematic way to help disadvantaged people find quality health care, both physically and emotionally. For children burdened with housing insecurity, there is an earlier risk of recreational drug abuse, low emotional instability, and increased rates of teenage pregnancy and depression.
Looking at various correlations, such as those reporting housing insecurity, the most common association is with middle-aged adults, members of a minority group, single people, and low-income people. Access to care is mandatory for this population. Moreover, there is an association between housing insecurity and poor caregiving, poor health and the presence of chronic diseases.
As noted in the JAMA 2021 article by Linton et al, “In this nationally representative sample of American adults, housing insecurity was associated with higher psychological distress and lower self-rated health during the COVID-19 pandemic.” The findings recognize that interventions for housing insecurity can also mitigate structured racism. Compared to the cohort of those experiencing housing security, the cohort of those experiencing housing insecurity show lower self-rated health scores and higher levels of distress.
Although there are known adverse effects associated with housing insecurity, with a significant impact on mental health, there is a need to better understand what can mitigate this impact.
A Spanish study noted that 85.3% of men and 89% of women described poor mental health associated with housing insecurity. This was far more than the 14.5% men and 19.5% women with mental health issues that make up Barcelona‘s general population. Housing insecurity plays an important and significant role in the association with poor mental health.
It is understandable that housing insecurity has a negative impact on physical and mental health. Without a coherent roof over his head, an individual has no basis of support on which to build his life. This contributes negatively to food insecurity, employment and access to health care. In a domino effect, when one layer of support after another evaporates, the homeless person desperately needs and will benefit from affordable housing. Public-private partnerships can showcase both private and public social entrepreneurship, which can create safer housing in the North Country.
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