What we know
- Housing is a key social determinant of health.
- The relationship between housing outcomes and health outcomes is bi-directional: housing affects health outcomes, and health affects housing outcomes.
- There are clear links between the quality and location of housing and health outcomes.
- The impacts of housing on health vary between geographic and climatic locations and contexts.
- There is a wide range of housing interventions that positively impact Indigenous health. One way of categorising these is: infrastructure improvements; addressing behavioural factors; and adjustments to policy environments.
- Addressing infrastructure, health promotion and the policy environment simultaneously.
- Effective policy environments that administer and enforce appropriate housing standards and design guidelines, while allowing sufficient flexibility to tailor designs and materials to local conditions.
- Indigenous environmental health workers are vital for ongoing housing maintenance and the promotion of healthy living practices.
- High-quality, well-maintained health hardware such as taps, toilets, showers and sinks, coupled with attention to safety of a house, can make a major positive impact on Indigenous health for any age group.
- Improving indoor temperature regulation, as well as preventing damp, mould and fungi, reduces respiratory and skin diseases.
- Involving communities in the design, construction and maintenance of housing empowers them and builds capacity for improved housing-related health outcomes.
What doesn’t work
- Imposing housing and health promotion programs or housing design that is inappropriate for the physical, climatic and social context.
- Using low-quality materials and construction to generate initial cost savings increases the costs of maintenance and housing replacement in the longer term.
What we don’t know
- Although some very clear associations between housing and health are evident, it is very difficult to demonstrate a causal relationship between the two.
The Closing the Gap Clearinghouse has published a resource sheet on housing construction and maintenance (Pholeros & Phibbs 2012). This resource sheet is intended to complement it by examining how the quality of housing impacts health outcomes, and by taking a broader view of housing including its location and social environment. It is recommended that the two resource sheets be read alongside one another.
- Current policy context
- Scope of this review and nature of evidence base
- How does housing impact on health outcomes?
Types of housing interventions that impact upon health, and principles for their effective implementation
- The policy environment
- Infrastructure improvements
- Housing-related health promotion programs
- Enabling conditions
- Ineffective or contentious practices
Appendix A: Additional relevant material in the Clearinghouse
End matter: References; Acknowledgments; Abbreviations; Terminology; Funding; Suggested citation