HOUSING AND HEALTH ARE intrinsically linked.

U.S. News & World Report CIVIC CIVIC Ben Carson Talks Health and Housing, Backs Away From HUD Rent Hikes The former neurosurgeon says stable housing promotes self-sufficiency and that proposed rent increases are ‘not urgent.’ By Gaby Galvin, Staff Writer U.S. News & World Report More Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson talks with a resident of Willington, Conn., in her home, which has a crumbling foundation, on June 4, 2018.(JESSICA HILL/AP) HOUSING AND HEALTH ARE intrinsically linked. That was the message from policy experts, including U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, at an event hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center on Friday in the nation’s capital: The best health care can’t keep people healthy if they live somewhere unsafe or unstable. “As a pediatric neurosurgeon, I spent a lot of time on little kids, sometimes operating all night long trying to give them a second chance at life,” said Carson, who spent more than 30 years at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore before entering politics. “Most of the time we were successful, but then I found myself in a terrible dilemma, because a few days later they’re getting ready to go home, and many of those homes were pretty awful places – rats and roaches and bedbugs, mold and lead and crime. How in the world can you in good conscience send somebody back into an environment like that?” Research indicates a strong link between health outcomes and the physical and social traits of people’s housing and neighborhoods, and improving housing for low-income people has been tied to reduced health care costs. “Housing is health,” Eileen Fitzgerald, president and CEO of Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future, said during a separate panel at the BPC event. Housing can serve as a platform to address other so-called determinants of health, such as food security, education and employment, she said. Carson and others touched on myriad health and housing topics Friday, including chronic homelessness, natural disasters, aging in place and the opioid crisis, which BPC President Jason Grumet called the “crucible of everything that’s not working right now in American society.” Carson also emphasized the importance of increased collaboration between HUD and the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, and said he has met with HHS Secretary Alex Azar to discuss how the two agencies can better coordinate their efforts. Some of the conversations have centered around lead exposure, asthma and data-sharing, he said. [ READ: Baltimore Seeks to Curb Elderly Falls With Data Initiative ] There likely will be regulatory hurdles when it comes to merging HHS and HUD data, Don Moulds, executive vice president for programs at The Commonwealth Fund and a former HHS policy adviser, said during the separate panel. But he said it is promising that the initial conversations are taking place. “The poor, the disabled, the elderly, those are the people who are at greatest risk of health problems related to insecure housing,” Carson said. “So it’s a perfect nexus for us to be working with HHS and with multiple other agencies to see what we can do to provide safe housing and affordable housing for our population.” Federal funding for HUD was $60.7 billion in fiscal 2017, while funding for HHS amounted to more than $1.1 trillion, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget. Carson’s emphasis on collaboration came the same week as a report that the Trump administration will seek to rename and reorganize HHS to absorb safety-net programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program and currently run through the Agriculture Department. Also released this week was a scathing analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities of the administration’s proposal to raise rents for millions of people receiving HUD rental assistance. The plan, unveiled by Carson in April, would allow housing authorities to impose work requirements on tenants and increase rents to up to 35 percent of income, among other things. The plan, which would require congressional approval, would place some low-income people at increased risk of homelessness while working families, people with disabilities and seniors would bear the brunt of the rent increase, according to the CBPP. After appearing to publicly back away from rent hikes in the proposal at another event in Detroit on Thursday, Carson reiterated Friday that more funding has since come through for HUD and “the necessity for doing that is not urgent.” As for criticism that the plan would keep people from upward mobility, or that Carson doesn’t care about helping low-income Americans? “A bunch of crap,” he said. Updated on June 8, 2018: This article has been updated. Gaby Galvin, Staff Writer Gaby Galvin is a staff writer at U.S. News & World Report. You can follow her on Twitter and em... READ MORE » Tags: housing, Department of Housing and Urban Development, HHS, Ben Carson, poverty

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