To create conditions for community wellbeing we must look back – at continuing, historic influences – and forward – to the major forces that shape current and future priorities. The Visualizing Wellbeing series explores the state of wellbeing in the United States through a collection of data visualizations. Each week we will explore one vital condition that comprise our framework for community wellbeing, developed in partnership through the Well Being Legacy Initiative.
The vital condition of Humane Housing is about having stable, safe places to live, and living in diverse, vibrant communities that provide what is needed to live full, productive lives.
We are able to thrive when we have secure, consistent places to live; when our homes and neighborhoods are safe from hazards; and when our neighborhoods provide what we need for our lives and livelihoods. Housing is the biggest expense for most Americans, and thus housing affordability is a significant factor in financial well-being. Homeownership has long been at the center of the American Dream helping build family wealth, and stable diverse communities. Without humane housing, the hope of healthy and well communities diminishes.
Diverse, Stable Neighborhoods of Opportunity
We thrive when our neighborhoods provide what we need for our lives and livelihoods, including jobs and economic opportunity; needed services and resources; safe places to walk and play; and a sense of belonging and connection to place. Unfortunately, not all neighborhoods provide what is needed for community well-being. Throughout American history, neighborhoods have been segregated by race, and along economic lines. Segregation amounts to systematic disinvestment that is made possible through inequitable policies and practices, like urban renewal, exclusionary zoning, and predatory lending. Neighborhood quality and conditions also affect our sense of community and connection place with major implications for wellbeing. The following visualizations explore residential segregation and housing stability.
Soaring rents and home prices in major American cities are a bellwether of an urban housing affordability crisis that’s been on the horizon for quite some time. An urbanization movement has been underway in the United States for more than a decade, with urban renaissance happening rapidly in some places, and without pre-planning to secure permanently affordable housing or establish safeguards that protect communities from negative externalities of development, like gentrification and speculation. The following visualization explores housing affordability.
A Place to Call Home
Having a place to call home plays a significant role in health and well-being. Homelessness in the United States has decreased over the last decade, yet remains persistent persistent, and an indicator of other deep inequities and failures of multiple system. A number of factors contribute to the risk of homelessness, including housing instability, affordability and discrimination, physical and mental health, and domestic violence. The following visualization explores the homelessness in the United States.