Housing as a Health Issue in “The 435”

NJHI 2015: Building a Culture of Health in New Jersey – Communities Moving to Action Building a Culture of Health in Census Tract 435

With the mantra, “housing is a health issue,” the Morristown United for Healthy Living Coalition is moving into new territory for many of our health and human services partners – and we couldn’t be more excited!

Our year-long needs assessment in Morristown’s Census Tract 435 (read about it HERE), identified Housing, the Built Environment (community infrastructure) and Financial Inequity as our key health issues, which brought up the question for some partners and others in the community . . . we know these are problems, but how are they health issues?

According to a brief report published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, there are “three important and interrelated aspects of residential housing and their links to health: the physical conditions within homes; conditions in the neighborhoods surrounding homes; and housing affordability, which not only shapes home and neighborhood conditions but also affects the overall ability of families to make healthy choices.” In our neighborhood, we know that there is need in all three areas. We’ve heard about unsafe and unhealthy home conditions (lead paint, insects, and exposed wires). We’ve heard community members say how the disrepair of their streets and buildings makes them feel “less than.” We’ve heard from mothers who say healthy food and physical activity are the least of their concerns because they are working two jobs to cover rent. We know that in our neighborhood, housing is a health issue.

Now, armed with our focus and our mantra, we have been working to bring in new partners who are experts on our priority areas (with great success!). Our last meeting (pictured above) was one of our most well-attended meetings yet and included organizations such as Family Promise, Rutgers SNAP-Ed, Wind of the Sprit Immigrant Resource Center, the Morris County Office of Health Management, Atlantic Health System, Morris County Habitat for Humanity, Homeless Solutions, Proceed Inc., the Town of Morristown, the Mental Health Association in Morris County, Morris County Hispanic American Chamber of Commerce, Morristown and Morris County Housing Authorities, the United Way of Northern NJ, Morristown Neighborhood House, along with several residents.

Together, we have developed an impact model to help guide our work and will soon vote on the specific strategies we will undertake to build a Culture of Health in Morristown’s Census Tract 435.

For more information about the work of the North Jersey Health Collaborative in general, please visit www.njhealthmatters.org. For questions and/or to join our coalition, contact morristownunited@njhealthmatters.org.

View a recording of the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps webinar “Collective Impact in the Real World: From Common Vision to Collaborative Evaluation” facilitated by Dr. Ashley E. Anglin of the North Jersey Health Collaborative and the project director for the Morristown United for Healthy Living Coalition.

Ashley Anglin
North Jersey Health Collaborative