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Campaign Partners in Healthcare, Child Welfare, and Local Government Speak at Opportunity Starts at Home Congressional Briefing
The campaign hosted a congressional briefing on September 18 featuring three of its Steering Committee members: Children’s HealthWatch, Children’s Defense Fund, and National League of Cities. The briefing, “Tackling America’s Housing Crisis Through Cross-Sector Partnerships,” showcased the overwhelming research that stronger investments in affordable homes would generate multiplying returns in health, child welfare, and local economies. Approximately 60 Capitol Hill staffers and advocates attended.
Allison Bovell-Ammon, director of policy strategy at Children’s HealthWatch, kicked off the first presentation with an exploration of how stable, affordable housing produces better individual health outcomes and reduces overall healthcare costs for the nation. Ms. Bovell-Ammon highlighted, as an example, the graph below showing the total cost of caring for a patient at Boston Medical Center. Prior to January 2018, the patient was experiencing homelessness but was also receiving health and other services. The total costs of his inpatient, outpatient, and pharmacy care while he was homeless was very high. In January 2018, however, the patient finally got access to stable, affordable housing and his healthcare costs dropped significantly and immediately, consistent with what “Housing First” research has found.
“We know we need to produce more housing,” said Ms. Bovell-Ammon. “We need more rental subsidies. And we call on the government to help our patients and help our entire well-being.”
Zach Tilly, policy associate at Children’s Defense Fund, then presented the findings of his organization’s recent report that examined nine existing programs (housing subsidies; subsidized jobs; the Earned Income Tax Credit; an increased minimum wage; child care subsidies; a refundable Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit; SNAP benefits; a refundable Child Tax Credit; and reformed child support) and their potential to reduce child poverty. The study found that expanding housing vouchers would have the single largest impact among the nine policies, reducing child poverty by 22% and lifting 2.1 million children out of poverty.
“The single most effective way to reduce child poverty is expanding affordable housing resources like vouchers,” Mr. Tilly said.
Mike Wallace, program director on community and economic development at the National League of Cities (NLC), closed by presenting the findings of NLC’s recent report, “Homeward Bound.” Over 20 elected officials and local leaders from across the country developed local and federal policy recommendations to solve the housing affordability crisis.
“If you are a city with major housing instability problems, you’re also going to have problems with job security, health and well-being, and upward mobility,” said Mr. Wallace.
Watch Part 1 of Congressional Briefing
Watch Part 2 of Congressional Briefing


Stable, Affordable Homes are Critical For Baby and Toddler Development
The campaign published a new blog on September 12 written by Mollyrose Schaffner, policy writer and editor for ZERO TO THREE. ZERO TO THREE, an organization that works to ensure all babies and toddlers have a strong start in life, participates on the campaign’s Roundtable. In the blog, Ms. Schaffner writes about how access to safe, stable, and affordable housing helps lay a strong foundation for child development and about the importance of robust federal affordable housing policies.
“Safeguarding access to safe, stable, affordable homes is a critical policy ingredient for healthy child development,” writes Ms. Schaffner. “This is a problem we can solve, with proven supports to help families get in and stay in safe homes. Housing assistance programs, such as housing vouchers, public housing, and the national Housing Trust Fund reduce the likelihood that families live in overcrowded housing, experience homelessness, or move frequently.” 

New Study Finds Medicaid Expansion Can Significantly Reduce Evictions
A new study published in Health Affairs, “Can Medicaid Expansion Prevent Housing Evictions?,” found that early Medicaid expansion in California was associated with an average reduction of 24.5 fewer evictions per month per county. The researchers compared 51 counties in California that expanded Medicaid to 235 counties in states that did not expand Medicaid. The results suggest that for every 1,000 new Medicaid enrollees in California, Medicaid expansion was associated with approximately 22 fewer evictions per year. The most pronounced effects were found in counties with high rates of uninsured residents before expansion.
“Medicaid expansion has been shown to reduce medical debt and poverty by alleviating the financial burden of medical care on low-income beneficiaries and their families,” write the study’s authors.  “Health care coverage may be keeping households from falling over the brink, helping them meet their living expenses as the growing cost of medical care constrains household budgets.  Our findings indicate that Medicaid not only is an important part of the health care safety net but also may be considered a key strategy for addressing poverty-related housing instability.”

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