After a busy day, I’m grateful to get home to a dry, warm house where I can relax and feel safe. But, I’m also acutely aware of how fortunate I am compared to many others in my community.
We know good quality housing helps us stay healthy and can improve our wellbeing, but equally poor housing can add to the strain on our health service and the economy. It’s estimated the cost of poor housing to Welsh society is over £1bn a year, with 18 percent of homes being considered detrimental to health.
In a report published in partnership with Public Health Wales and the Building Research Establishment (BRE), Community Housing Cymru have also highlighted upgrading our homes could lead to 39 per cent fewer hospital admissions for circulation and lung conditions. And, for every £1 spent on improving warmth in vulnerable households we could see a £4 return on investment.
At the recent Community Housing Annual Conference, I talked with housing association representatives who are wanting to build and manage affordable quality housing which will make an important contribution to healthy communities.
Housing associations across Wales want to collaborate and, the NHS in Wales is also on a path towards effective partnership working to help drive improvements in health. By working together we can build more social homes and a deliver a healthier Wales faster than if we try to solve these two issues separately.
Good quality, affordable homes can help meet our public health challenges and reduce the widening health inequalities in our communities.
Housing associations operate with a similar social purpose to the NHS, putting people and their needs at the heart of everything they do. They help support vulnerable people’s physical and mental health needs with adapted homes and additional services, enabling them to live independent and healthy lives.
They are also vital in sustaining our economy. Housing associations in Wales have a bold and ambitious vision to make good housing a basic right for all, and plan to build 75,000 new homes and create 150,000 new jobs by 2036.
The Welsh NHS Confederation has highlighted before the need for an integrated approach in order to reduce demand on our services. This includes good housing, education, social care, health, community support and an environment that actively promotes and encourages people to live healthy lives.
By working together with housing associations, we can deliver affordable housing which lead to positive outcomes for the public purse, and for the people and communities who benefit from their services.
To quote a well known character ‘Can we build it? Yes we can!’
Jane Green, Engagement Manager at the Welsh NHS Confederation