Heluna Health Data Brief: High housing costs and low quality significantly reduce outbreak preparedness — in most California counties, over 15% of residents spend at least half of their income on housing

Los Angeles — Population health leader Heluna Health has released a new data brief showing alignment between the lack of affordable, high-quality housing and reduced outbreak preparedness for a large percentage of California’s residents.

In 48 of California’s 58 counties, the analysis shows that at least 15% of households spend half or more of their income on housing. Los Angeles County was the lowest in the state, with nearly one in four households spending at least half of their income on housing. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development considers housing affordable when it costs 30% or less of a household’s income.

“California’s housing crisis doesn’t just weigh on families’ budgets, but on almost every aspect of their physical and mental health,” says Blayne Cutler, MD, Ph.D., President and CEO of Heluna Health. “Communities where all residents can find safe, affordable homes will be far better equipped to respond and recover when a crisis hits.”

The data brief is based on a newly launched Heluna Health data tool called the Community Outbreak Preparedness Index (COPI), which measures numerous indicators of preparedness at the county level. COPI enables policymakers, community members, and others to better understand and respond to conditions that affect their resilience.

In its examination of housing quality, the data brief shows that in 50 of 58 California counties, at least one in five households faced one of the following issues: overcrowding, high costs, lack of kitchen facilities, and lack of plumbing facilities. In Los Angeles County, one in three households face one or more of these issues.

The cost and quality of housing have a direct impact on health, according to the analysis, since “families facing high housing costs have less to spend on their own care,” while quality factors such as insufficient space, inadequate ventilation, and prevalence of mold and pests contribute to disease or illness.

The findings in the housing data brief demonstrate that preparedness involves more than medical capabilities alone, and that high-quality affordable housing for every Californian is key to building a healthier state that is better prepared to face future challenges.

To learn more about Heluna Health, go to www.helunahealth.org.