American Medical Association Addresses Fair Housing and Chronic Homelessness

American Medical Association Prescribes Stable, Affordable Housing as First Priority in Improving Quality of Life for Chronically Homeless

Delegates at the 2018 American Medical Association (AMA) Annual Meeting in Chicago adopted several policies intended to alleviate racial housing segregation and chronic homelessness.

With the aim of addressing racial housing segregation as an amplifier of health disparities, delegates adopted a policy stating that the American Medical Association:

  • Opposes policies that enable racial housing segregation.
  • Advocates continued federal funding of publicly-accessible geospatial data on community racial and economic disparities and disparities in access to affordable housing, employment, education, and health care, including but not limited to HUD’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing tool.

In an effort to alleviate chronic homelessness, AMA’s existing policy was amended, calling on the American Medical Association to recognize that stable, affordable housing as a first priority, without mandated therapy or service compliance, is effective in improving housing stability and quality of life among individuals who are chronically homeless.

“It is important that we take steps to improve the health and well-being of people who are facing chronic homelessness, and focusing on housing first may help do that,” said AMA Trustee Ryan J. Ribeira, MD, MPH.

“It is critical that researchers and the public have access to geospatial data on racial segregation that persists in many communities across the country. We urge the federal government to continue funding the collection and maintenance of this publicly-available data that will be imperative to improving health outcomes in minority communities,” said AMA Trustee Willarda V. Edwards, MD.

“The AMA remains committed to eliminating health disparities in this country in order to achieve health equity and will continue to push for measures that improve the health of the nation,” Dr. Edwards said.

Many indivdiuals experience homelessness cycle in and out of hospital emergency departments. According to the AMA Wire “More Medicaid patients are visiting the emergency department than ever before because of the growing crisis of poverty, homelessness and decreased number of mental health facilities.”

The Opportunity Starts at Home is a long-term, multi-sector campaign to meet the rental needs of the nation’s low-income people. Health and Housing are sectors that can work together to end homelessness.

Opportunity Starts at Home makes the case that “Health care advocates are housing advocates” and that “A quality affordable home is a prescription for good health. It has been linked to prevention of long-term health problems and promotes healthy, productive lives.”

AMA Statement on Fair Housing

Opportunity Starts at Home Healthcare and Housing

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