Research Links LIHTC Program to Improved Health Outcomes
Evidence is building that housing affordability, the neighborhood’s environment, and conditions within the home are all important determinants of health, according to an op-ed published in the Economist Group’s Roll Call publication by Anand Parekh, M.D., chief medical adviser at the Bipartisan Policy Center. As a result, states and affordable housing development agencies are beginning to look at ways LIHTC may be used to improve health.
Research suggests that families with high housing cost burdens are unable to spend money on necessary health care services, prescriptions, and nutritious food, and therefore often have poorer self-reported health, higher prescription drug nonadherence rates, and lower food security than their peers with lower housing costs.
LIHTC credits may also be used to refurbish affordable housing units. Studies have shown that upgrading building materials and improving ventilation positively affects health outcomes for residents, especially for those with asthma or respiratory issues.
And, according to the authors, the most direct collaboration between the affordable housing community and the health and service communities is through the creation of supportive housing, which combines affordable housing assistance with wraparound services to assist residents experiencing homelessness, joblessness, disability, or health problems. One study showed that this combination of housing and services could save an average of $6,000 a year, per person, in health care costs.
The Bipartisan Policy Center will release a report summarizing research linking affordable housing, the majority of which is financed through the LIHTC, to improvements in health behaviors and outcomes. And as Congress moves forward with tax reform, the Bipartisan Policy Center is renewing its call for increased investments in the program, in addition to ensuring that affordable housing is not adversely impacted by tax reform.