Towards healthy homes for all: What the RentSafe findings mean for public health in Canada
This document is also available in French.
Housing is considered to be a core social determinant of health (SDH) and intersects with a number of other SDH — including food insecurity and inadequate income — to create population health inequities. While housing is considered important to health outcomes, it may not be clear to public health practitioners if action on unhealthy housing as part of social and built environments is part of their scope or role.
Recommendations to inform public health action on housing in Canada
The National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health (NCCDH) has worked with the director of RentSafe, a program under the Canadian Partnership for Children’s Health and the Environment (CPCHE), to summarize and present RentSafe’s recent findings and recommendations to inform public health action on housing. This summary document provides an overview of the RentSafe program, including provincial- and local-level work looking at unhealthy housing conditions for low-income tenants. An overview of findings from baseline research is provided, indicating lack of service coordination, weak intersectoral networks and uncertainty of how to address concerns about environmental health issues in low-income housing. The document also describes public health’s involvement in community-engaged research activities, including both primary and supportive intersectoral roles. Findings drawn from RentSafe’s work are framed as areas of potential action by public health practitioners at multiple levels. The authors place emphasis on the importance of participatory practice and direct engagement of those with lived experience of unhealthy housing to participate in intersectoral spaces and inform public health action.
Use this resource to:
- initiate a discussion with municipal partners on opportunities to include the social determinants of health in the creation and updating of bylaws on housing, and ways that public health can support this work;
- explore opportunities for community-engaged research to address the health impacts of inadequate and unaffordable housing; and
- bring together multiple partners from the community and both health and non-health sectors for collaborative advocacy and action on unhealthy housing.
Phipps, E., and the National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health. (2018). Towards healthy homes for all: What the RentSafe findings mean for public health in Canada. Antigonish, NS: National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health, St. Francis Xavier University.
- Housing as a focus for public health action on equity: A curated list (2018)
- Toward healthy homes for all: RentSafe summary and recommendations (2018)
- Housing need in Canada: Healthy lives start at home (2015)
- Pathways to improving well-being for Indigenous peoples: How living conditions decide health (2013)