Soaring rent prices linked to premature death

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The peer-reviewed journal “Social Science & Medicine” has published a study reporting people who spend a vast amount on rent are more likely to be in poor health and be at a higher risk of premature death.

Will Humble, Executive Director of the Arizona Public Health Association, joined us on Arizona Horizon to discuss his thoughts on this study and how its findings relate to Arizonans.

Humble said it all comes down to income.

“Having income, especially disposable income, is a really key factor in figuring out how healthy the family is going to be,” Humble said.

“If you’re making a good salary, maybe even gotten an increase in your salary, but your rent is outpacing the increases you’re getting at work, that cuts into the disposable income that you have for all of the other things that help keep your family healthy,” Humble explained.

“When rent outpaces what you’re making, it’s harder to buy your food, you’re more stressed out, you’re not sleeping as well, you might have to get a second job which means you’re going to lose your social connectiveness because you’re spending all of your time trying to keep the wheels on instead of having fun,” Humble said.

“Having fun, it’s a key determiner in life expectancy. Social connectiveness is a really important and under-appreciated part of life expectancy,” he added.

All of these things add immense stress into a person’s life, which in response can create dire health affects.

Heart disease, hypertension, and kidney issues are just some of the issues Humble said can result from high stress.

Humble also talked about how people often neglect their other needs such as healthy eating or going to the gym if they’re preoccupied with how they’re going to be able to afford their homes.

“Housing, that’s the foundation. If you don’t have housing, that really panics people. So, when your rent keeps going up, and your family’s income isn’t keeping pace with that, you start taking it from the rest of what you need,” Humble explained.

On the heels of this study are numerous reports about sky-rocketing rent in Arizona, and the lack of affordable housing available, particularly in Phoenix.

Humble said policy measures need to be put in place now to ensure affordable housing.

“This affordable housing crisis is not just an inconvenience. Its causing public health outcomes to be worse,” Humble concluded.

Will Humble, Executive Director, Arizona Public Health Association

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