"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Poor housing harms health in American Indian and Alaska Native communities.

Stripped of ancestral lands, American Indian and Alaska Native tribal communities face an unprecedented housing crisis that calls for national housing reform. As victims of centuries of deliberate government policies to remove and redistribute lands and resources, many individuals live in Third World conditions which have caused skyrocketing rates of land and resources. Health problems, from diabetes and heart disease to chronic liver disease, obesity, unintentional injuries, substance use disorders, violence and suicide. This results in extremely high rates of disability and prematurely shortened lives.

Poverty and poor housing result in impaired health and impaired driving

The harsh reality of poverty became apparent once I traveled to my reservation home in Mescalero, New Mexico as a baby. There I saw discolored, broken, or weather-beaten houses, and yards filled with old, rusted, and abandoned cars. According to the National Congress of American Indians, Substandard housing constitutes 40% of on-reservation housing. in comparison with only 6% of residences outside Indian Country. On the reservation, a couple of third of the homes are overcrowded.

In 2019, a An estimated 20% of American Indians and Alaska Natives One lived in poverty in comparison with the opposite. 11% national poverty rate. Poverty, low education levels, and harsh conditions mean that many American Indians and Alaska Natives lack the fundamental foundation for survival: stable, secure, adequate, reasonably priced housing.

As the historian Claudio Savant so eloquently wrote, About 1.5 billion acres of “invasion” Occurred within the United States from 1776 to the current. This lack of traditional homelands has had devastating, lifelong effects on habitat and living conditions. Millions of people that have been displaced over the past 300-plus years have increased poor health outcomes.

Today, consequently of poor housing conditions, American Indians and Alaska Natives. Fighting environmental diseases These include lead exposure, asthma from poor ventilation, infectious diseases from contaminated water, sanitation problems, and overcrowding. Mental distress is common. Exposure to pollutants increases the danger of lung disease, cardiovascular events comparable to heart attack and stroke, and lots of other diseases.

Disability and Accommodation

American Indians and Alaska Natives have it. The disability rate is 50% higher than the national average., and rates of mobility and self-care disabilities are particularly high amongst people age 55 and older. Housing that’s old, in poor repair, or criss-crossed with physical barriers could also be inaccessible to many individuals, stopping them from living independently inside their homes and participating fully in community life. Prevents taking. It could cause isolation and increase anxiety and depression. In addition, unreliable electricity can pose life-threatening risks for individuals with disabilities who require ventilator support, and may threaten the security of wheelchair users (wheelchair batteries must be well charged).

Fair housing provides health equity.

Housing is a known contributor to health outcomes and a meaningful lever for health equity. Despite the United States' promise to assume responsibility for housing and health for American Indians and Alaska Natives in exchange for billions of acres of land, little has been done to realize positive change. Outsiders may assume that Indian tribes are getting wealthy from gambling, but Which is far from the truth. Many tribes shouldn’t have casino revenue. People who often struggle to interrupt even cancel any earnings on account of the needs of their tribe.

Conditions on tribal lands tragically reflect the outcomes of historical trauma, poverty, and inadequate support from the federal government. Each sovereign nation must develop sustainable housing projects for its members as determined by its tribal government and housing department. Federal assistance varies depending on tribal financial status, resources, and competition from border communities.

Gaining national support for these initiatives can go a good distance:

  • Congress and Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (S.2264). This act provides guaranteed, inflation-adjusted funding to our nation's tribal communities. We can all lobby Congress to reauthorize this act by 2032 by contacting our congressional representatives. Funding from this act has been available for years, but modest increases haven’t kept pace with inflation.
  • Tell Congress and state representatives that recent residences on tribal lands support health by providing structural features comparable to good ventilation and temperature control, reliable and clean water, and eliminating barriers to access to and from the house. Should. Given the high disability rates of American Indians and Alaska Natives, housing should be designed to accommodate the independent living needs of all residents. Adhering to universal design principles in developing recent housing advantages people of all ages and talents by recognizing the changes that may occur across the lifespan.

gave The US government has a moral responsibility. To be sure that American Indians and Alaska Natives are allowed to regain lost tribal lands, and are supplied with one of the best housing to succeed, be fully included in community life, and be healthy; stay Last yr, the U.S. Department of the Interior reauthorized regional directors of the Bureau of Indian Affairs to review and approve applications for trust land. This represents a very important step forward, though hopefully not the last.