UI project uncovers correlation between housing and health in Iowa City neighborhoods


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    The UI College of Health is working with the city to develop a plan to improve health in some Iowa city neighborhoods. This comes after a recent survey found there is a correlation between where you live and how it impacts your health.

    "We looked at poverty rates in Iowa City, we looked at non-white concentrations in Iowa City, as well as where people were going at an alarming rate to emergency rooms for asthma type diagnosis," said Tracy Hightshoe, Iowa City INVEST Health team member.

    This narrowed their search to Hilltop, Broadway and Towncrest neighborhoods, where 20% of residents in the survey indicated they are diagnosed with asthma.

    "These families, a lot of them are not well controlled asthma, but they're going to the emergency room for various reasons," said Hightshoe.

    These reasons can be triggered by high levels of moisture, molding, and bug infestations, all of which were reported by 20% of residents surveyed.

    Hightshoe said about 70% of a child's time is spent inside their home, and that goes up to 90% for elderly people.

    If residents have an unhealthy home environment, she said this could make a lot of people's asthma worse.

    The survey also found a resident's home can correlate with mental health. 51% of residents felt levels of stress, sadness, anger and fear on most days.

    "The sadness, the anxiety that comes with living in an environment, that's not healthy, impacts your life," said Vickie Miene, INVEST Health team member.

    Some of these resident's healthy living environments are already impacted by the barriers of receiving healthcare, but leaders said this can be improved by having a strong support system.

    "if you have neighbors that can... help you, say hello and help your mood, that elevates your mood," said Miene.

    INVEST health members said by bringing to light issues within these communities, they can bring together health and housing leaders for solutions moving forward.

    "A lot of the community development agencies have never worked with the health care sector, and it's the same with the health care sector. They've never worked with us, so we just need smarter ways to improve the health in our neighborhoods," said Hightshoe.

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