How housing affects health

Around the world, families without decent housing are exposed to greater personal and environmental risks, are less nourished, and have less access to health care, according to the World Health Organization. As many as 1 in 4 people worldwide live in conditions that harm their health and safety.

Wherever it’s located, substandard and deteriorating housing can contribute to a variety of serious ailments. Respiratory diseases, lead poisoning, cancers from toxic materials, neurological disorders, stress, psychological and behavioral dysfunction. Just one example of how physical surroundings can affect health: It is estimated that as many as 40 percent of asthma cases can be attributed to factors in the home such as molds, pests like mice or cockroaches, or exposure to chemicals.

A decent, affordable house can have a significant impact on a family’s health. Replacing a dirt floor with a concrete one reduces the spread of respiratory and parasitic diseases. Repairing a leaky roof eliminates mold. Creating access to basic sanitation facilities such as toilets or latrines helps improve hygiene and stops life-threatening disease. Affordability raises a family’s standard of living and relieves the psychological pressure of being forced to make tough trade-offs just to make it through the month.

The place you call home should never threaten your health. Decent and affordable housing help make that difference.

Stories of Impact

With a small loan from Habitat Brazil, Maria Lucia improved her home and life for her 7-year-old daughter Bia.

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Mandy and her two sons are now living in a healthy home she built with Habitat for Humanity.

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After raising her own kids, Carrie signed on once again for a life of homework, lessons and extracurriculars.

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