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Kresge-supported work focuses on protecting affordable housing as neighborhoods rebound

Health, Housing

Resurgent interest in urban living is helping to revive neighborhoods in numerous American cities, stabilizing populations and sometimes beginning to reverse previous declines. 

One consequence of the influx of residents is new public and private investment in amenities such as parks, bike paths and grocery and other stores.

However, new demand and investment can also drive up housing costs. That’s particularly true in areas that have traditionally been affordable to low- and moderate-income individuals and families, notes a report by ChangeLab Solutions.

With support from Kresge’s Health Program, the nonprofit ChangeLab Solutions developed a guide to help practitioners and community advocates preserve and expand the number of affordable rental housing options in high-demand neighborhoods.

The guide is aimed at practitioners who work at the intersection of housing and health, an area of increasing emphasis for Kresge’s Health Program.

There’s reason to applaud the expansion of full-service grocery stores into former food deserts, but we want to ensure the beneficiaries of these investments are the people who lived for years without access to healthy food, says Marice Ashe, CEO of ChangeLab Solutions, in a preface to the work.

The ChangeLab team has produced a policy toolkit with information on housing market trends and research on the links between rising housing costs and poor health outcomes. The toolkit identifies strategies to help ensure that households of all incomes have housing options in the areas where they want to live. It covers six policy areas: preservation, protection, inclusion, revenue generation, incentives and property acquisition.

A companion overview is available to help local health departments support efforts to address affordable housing shortages. It highlights specific local health departments that have addressed rising housing costs in their communities.

The Oakland, Calif.-based ChangeLab Solutions is a leading practitioner in finding public health law and policy solutions to vexing health disparities, says David Fukuzawa, managing director of Kresge’s Health Program.

“Because of the strong link between health and housing, we hope more and more professionals from the respective specialties will collaborate,” he says. “This is a body of work that we hope supports that and ultimately helps people of modest means gain a toehold to better lives.” 

See the report, an executive summary and the overview for local health departments in the library.