The social determinants of health are the non-medical factors that influence health outcomes. Housing is a social determinant of health that could be better addressed in the United States and in the Portland metro in particular. It is estimated only 2-3% of rental units will be vacant in 2022. In addition, rents are expected to remain high having a ripple effect on vulnerable and low-income populations.
There is clear evidence that stable housing improves health and well-being. In fact, numerous studies suggest that social determinants of health account for between 30-55% of health outcomes. In addition, housing instability can have profoundly negative impacts on children and adds considerable costs to a variety of systems (from healthcare to social services to the criminal justice system).
At Project Access NOW, we take a broad approach to improving health equity and have programs providing both assistance for accessing health care and maintaining stable housing. Finding help can be difficult to navigate in our fragmented social services sector, but Project Access NOW bridges these gaps. During the course of the past two years, the organization has Since 2007, PANOW has facilitated $75.9 million in donated health care, $14 million in affordable prescriptions, $5.3 million in health insurance premium assistance, and $23.9 million in health-related services. During the past two years, as the pandemic has disrupted economic, social, and health systems even more, the organization has been vital in assisting clients from all walks of life access healthcare and other services.
We are excited to be working closely with members of the Legislature and the Oregon Health Authority on the importance of Community Information Exchange (CIE) to address social determinants of health this session. We are also thrilled to have local student engagement in our policy priorities this year: Meet Nicole who is working with us and Representative Dexter’s office on this topic.
Nicole Egeler is a graduate student at the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health and a fellow partnering with Project Access NOW and the Oregon state legislature to support advocacy for evidence-based health policymaking. After five years of clinical experience, Nicole developed a passion improving the quality and efficiency of the health system. Nicole says, “I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with Project Access NOW and explore some of the real-world challenges clients experience as they navigate our fragmented social and health systems.“