I’m puzzling out how public health and affordable housing developers coordinate their work.
Both sets of providers want all Minnesotans to have the opportunity to make choices that allow them to live a long, healthy life, regardless of their income, education, or ethnic background. Both know our homes play a significant role in that, and it is especially true for lower-income families who are most at risk for and have the least financial ability to respond to unhealthy housing conditions.
But, public health and affordable housing providers do not often work together. Why? It’s a function of when they engage in their work:
- Public health providers – when something happens with someone
- Affordable housing developers – when there is need of housing
One is a client, one is a structure. These differences are partially created by funding policies — HUD tends to fund at a community level, where as Weatherization programs (DOE) and Lead mitigation funding (CDC) tends to fund at the impacted household level.
I first noticed this disconnect when trying to see where Minnesota Green Communities plugs into the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative. That program was developed by folks with a history of engaging from the public health perspective, so if you are an organization that develops new affordable housing, it is difficult to see where you fit.
There IS a developing collaboration in Minnesota, the Alliance for Healthy Homes and Communities, that is looking for pathways around this inherent disconnect. It also brings walkable, transit-accessible, bikeable, and amenity access into the discussion.
Where do YOU see opportunities to build bridges where there is no overlap in engagement points – even if the desired outcomes are the same?