2019 County Health Rankings Shine Spotlight on Americans Burdened by Housing Costs

By Paloma Perez, May 13, 2019

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Recently, the 2019 County Health Rankings were released. The Rankings show that our health is influenced by many things—like a good job, a good education, and safe places to play. All of these factors are linked to where we live: our home.

By highlighting the connection between health and housing, this year’s Rankings’ Key Findings Report showed that not everyone has the same opportunities to be healthy where they live. Across the U.S., more than 1 in 10 households are severely “housing cost burdened,” which means they spend more than half of their income on housing costs.

When so much of a family’s paycheck goes to rent or the mortgage, there is little room in families’ budgets for other essentials that contribute to good health, such as healthy food, medicine, or transportation to work and school.

Statistic graphic that says "1 in 4 renters in the United States spends more than half of what they earn on housing costs."

Renters are disproportionately burdened by high housing costs as well. One in renters spends more than half their paycheck on housing, and for low-income renters, the burden rises to 1 in 2 paying more than 50 percent.

This year’s analysis and message that a safe, secure and affordable place to call home is a foundation for good health resonated well with reporters across the nation. Articles featuring the Rankings were in CBS News: MoneyWatch (story 1story 2), The Conversation, Fast CompanyU.S. News and World Report, CityLab. And, several state-based newspapers dug deep into the data to tell the story of what high housing costs mean for families and communities. Our coverage spanned more than 430 original print/online news articles across 45 states sparking conversations about the impact of housing on health nationwide.

Visit County Health Rankings to learn more about what’s happening in your community, and explore the Take Action to Improve Health resources for policies and strategies to consider.

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