Connection Between Income Inequality, Housing and Health

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My community service learning placement was completed at Habitat for Humanity Restore, North York location. A world where everyone has a safe and decent place to live is their vision, thus their mission is to provide affordable homeownership to lower income families as well as provide them with strength and self- reliance. Habitat for Humanity ReStore are home improvement stores across the GTA, which sell donated, new and gently-used home furnishings, appliances and home renovation materials at a fraction of the original price. All proceeds from sales and donations from the community go directly towards covering the cost to build homes for families. Volunteers are the heart and soul of Habit for Humanity, we assist with preparing merchandise for resale, accepting donations and providing customer service. As a volunteer I got to meet amazing people who genuinely have a passion for helping others. There were more volunteers than I expected and most of them just volunteer because they wanted to. At first, I did not think that some of the donations would be of value or even sell, however I was surprised when during the weekends the store was very busy with customers as well as people coming in to donate. It gave me a sense of pride for living in a community in which people are caring and generous. My role as a volunteer is rewarding as my social interaction with the community made me realize that I enjoy helping others and giving back to the community.

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The purpose of this assignment is to discuss and analyze how income inequality and housing are the two main determinants of health factors in low-income families. Kim Krisberg’s journal on income inequality and Hernandez & Suglla’s journal on better housing are both peer reviewed journals that support how income equality and better housing is directly related to better health outcome. Lastly, I will provide and discuss two available community resources that can support and promote physical, mental, and financial health of the low-income families.


Income Inequality as Determinant of Health Factor in Low-Income Families

There are a lot of factors in determining the quality of health, however research shows that the most influential social determinant of health is income. Level of income influences a person’s overall quality of life. Low wages may result in higher stress levels and parents of low income families are more likely to work multiple jobs just to make ends meet, leaving little quality time for children and/or partners. Such time constraints have negative implications for making and maintaining healthy social and community relationships. Children who grow up in low income families are more susceptible to disease, they are likely to develop chronic diseases in adulthood such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer. Compared to children in higher-income families, children in low-income families are more likely to have high levels of aggression and have one or more physical challenges (Krisberg, 2016).

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that higher income was linked with longer life expectancy across income groups. Research also shows that “at all levels of income, our health is affected by economic conditions, so even middle-class and upper middle-class people are in worse health than richer people” (Krisberg, 2016).

Better income enables families to afford nutritious foods, obtain adequate housing and engage in healthy activities, all of which significantly improves health. Higher income also gives parents more time to spend with family and participate in community events, because they no longer need to work two to three jobs to make ends meet. Family income plays a significant role in influencing child development.

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