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Housing as a Platform for Health and Educational Outcomes

This week I am delighted to be attending CGI America 2015 in Denver, Colorado, along with our outstanding mission partners from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

Collectively, we recognize that healthy homes have a profound effect in ensuring that kids are safe, healthy and ready to learn. The components of academic achievement, such as attendance and performance outcomes, is related to interactions among multiple biological, psychological, social, and environmental factors:[i]

A systematic review conducted by the Children’s Health Fund shows that risk factors such as childhood asthma and lead poisoning, especially during the crucial developmental period of early childhood, are significantly contributing to poor academic achievement. Unhealthy housing can lead to learning disabilities, decreased intelligence, speech development problems, hyperactivity and asthma, which is the number one medical reason for school absences. In 2008, asthma attacks led to an estimated 14.4 million lost school days (7.1 million children have asthma)[ii]. Home-based asthma triggers cause 40% of asthma episodes, which are entirely preventable[iii]. These triggers include mold, pests, dust mites, poor indoor air quality, cockroaches and tobacco smoke.

I sincerely look forward to furthering the dialog with our partners at HUD and CGI around housing as a platform for health and educational outcomes. Part of the conversation this week will include the exploration of pathways to expand healthy homes interventions through healthcare and social impact financing, which is critical to effectively scaling the impact of this work in communities across the nation.

I will provide updates and observations throughout the week via Twitter @RuthAnnNorton, and of course there will a rich conversation occurring at the official meeting hashtag #CGIAmerica. I hope all of our partners in healthy homes, education and healthcare will get a chance to tune in and engage at some point throughout the week!


[i] Roy Grant and Arturo Brito. Chronic Illness and School Performance: A Literature Review Focusing on Asthma and Mental Health Conditions. Children’s Health Fud, New York, NY: June, 2010

[ii] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey Raw Data, 2011. Analysis by the American Lung Association Research and Health Education Division using SPSS and SUDAAN software.

[iii] Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build A Healthier America. Beyond Health Care: New Directions To A Healthier America Report. April 2009

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