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Affordable Housing and Integrated Care

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Carvis Durr
October 16, 2023

Recently, public officials have put various efforts in place to enhance the coordination and integration of care provision, with the primary goal of achieving better outcomes for individuals while reducing costs for public programs. Housing facilities supported through civic engagements are attuned to their residents, and maintaining regular communication can help facilitate comprehensive healthcare and social services. Housing settings can ensure proper care is delivered at the right time by being an essential link between healthcare providers and individuals. For instance, housing facilities can assist in linking individuals with primary care physicians, mental health providers and social services agencies to address various needs, such as managing chronic conditions and securing housing assistance. By doing so, they can help reduce the likelihood of costly hospitalizations and emergency department visits, thereby promoting better health and well-being outcomes for individuals.

Furthermore, housing settings can be crucial in supporting individuals as they navigate the complex healthcare system. By maintaining regular contact with residents, these settings can ensure that individuals follow their care plans and receive the necessary support to manage their health and well-being over time. This effort is critical in improving individuals’ health outcomes while contributing to the overall sustainability of public programs.

Medical sociology is a field that explores the connections between social, cultural and behavioral factors and their impact on health. It seeks to understand how society shapes our perception and experience of health while investigating how social inequalities contribute to health outcomes. Medical sociology provides valuable insights into the multifaceted nature of health as a biological and social phenomenon, going beyond the traditional biomedical model by examining the complex interplay between individuals, communities and larger societal forces.

One critical tenet of medical sociology is addressing the structural factors contributing to health disparities. By focusing on the social determinants of health, such as access to affordable housing, medical sociology provides a framework for promoting health equity through integrated care. For example, safe and affordable housing is essential for maintaining physical and mental well-being. While the healthcare system can help patients connect with housing programs, a considerable number of additional resources is required to make a meaningful impact on the number of struggling households. By working collaboratively to address these societal issues, we can help to promote better health outcomes for everyone.

Acknowledging the challenges faced by those who struggle to pay rent is critical. These individuals are at risk of financial and housing instability and may also face a range of adverse health outcomes. Homelessness can make it challenging to access nutritious food, regular preventative care and management of chronic health conditions. High housing costs can further exacerbate the challenges low-income families face, who may be forced to choose between paying rent and covering essential expenses such as medicine, food, heating, transportation and more. High housing costs can lead to families living in unsafe areas, causing toxic stress and severe health problems for adults and children. By recognizing these challenges and working collaboratively to address them, we can help to promote better health outcomes for everyone.

Agency vs. Structure

Affordable housing significantly impacts the accessibility and quality of healthcare services for vulnerable populations. To ensure that the healthcare needs of these populations are met, it is crucial to adopt a collaborative approach that considers all the factors that contribute to the provision of affordable housing. This includes examining policies and regulations that may facilitate or hinder service integration. A comprehensive approach is essential to identify areas that need improvement and promote a just and equitable society. While individual efforts can be effective, societal structures can often pose obstacles. Factors like inadequate affordable housing, family and community dynamics, social hierarchies and professional status can all limit access to comprehensive care. One’s ‘agency’ in this context is related to their capacity to make decisions and choices. At the same time, ‘structure’ encompasses the norms, roles and institutions that may or may not be available to them. Addressing agencies and structure is crucial in ensuring vulnerable populations access integrated healthcare services. This can create a just society where everyone leads a healthy life.

The dynamics of social outcomes are shaped by a complex interplay between two fundamental factors: structure and agency. While agency reflects an individual’s autonomy in making decisions related to health and affordable housing, social structures such as class, gender, culture, religion, ethnicity and family can enable or constrain an individual’s agency in various situations. The outcome of this interplay determines the level of agency an individual has in their choices, thus influencing social outcomes.

Author: Meet Carvis C. Durr, a Ph.D. student and Graduate Teaching Associate at the University of Central Florida’s School of Sociology and Statistics. Carvis holds a Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration and two Master’s degrees in Business Administration and Leadership/Human Resource Development. Carvis is a member of the Scholar Strategy Network. Follow Carvis on Twitter @Iamcarvis or check out his professional profile on LinkedIn.

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