REPORT: Housing crisis raises child illness, injury: Housing

Tom Boland (
Mon, 12 Apr 1999 05:04:18 -0700 (PDT)

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FWD  Reuters - April 7, 1999


NEW YORK, Apr 07 (Reuters Health) -- A shrinking and more
expensive housing supply is placing American children at greater
risk for serious health problems, according to a new report.

``Hundreds of thousands of American children are suffering
disease, serious injuries, hunger, or educational failure
because they live in inadequate housing,'' write the authors of
''There's No Place Like Home: How America's Housing Crisis
Threatens Our Children.'' The report, based on recent studies
and data from organizations such as the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, was released Wednesday.

The report is sponsored by Housing America, a nonprofit
group based in San Francisco and New York and dedicated to
''ensuring safe and affordable housing for America's families.''

Its authors note that, as of March 1999, over 12.5 million
Americans (including 4.5 million children) now spend more than
half their total family income on rent.

Unfortunately, most of these families may have little choice
but to pay up or leave. According to the authors, recent
restrictions on the availability of government-subsidized
housing have helped create a situation where ``900,000 rental
units ceased to be affordable to low-income families'' between
1993 to 1995 alone.

This housing 'squeeze' is leaving more and more US families
homeless, or forcing them to choose between rent and food, or
rent and medical care.

According to the Housing America experts, the annual health
toll of this housing crisis now includes:

-- 120,000 children with anemia and 21,000 children with
stunted growth due to poor nutrition, as parents put food money
toward rent;

-- 10,000 pediatric asthma hospitalizations per year due to
household cockroach infestations (a major trigger for asthma

-- 187 children killed each year in fires caused by faulty
electrical wiring in the home;

-- and, the cumulative loss of 2.5 million child IQ points
due to lead poisoning from substandard paints and plumbing found
in homes.

Still, homelessness raises child health risks even higher.
''Homeless children suffer almost twice the respiratory
infections, five times the diarrheal infections, seven times the
iron deficiency, twice as many hospitalizations, and
significantly worse health status compared to housed children,''
according to the report.

The Housing America team believes that urgent action is
required to curb the rise in homelessness and unhealthy living
conditions faced by the nation's poor. Noting that current
waiting lists for rent-subsidized apartments in Los Angeles or
New York now last for up to 10 years, they advocate the more
widespread construction of subsidized housing across America.
The researchers also urge that the federal government set aside
$50 million to ``ensure affordable housing for kids with severe
asthma or chronic diseases.''


**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is
distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior
interest in receiving this type of information for non-profit research and
educational purposes only.**

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