How Access to Affordable Housing Can Improve Health Outcomes for Georgians

Solving the affordable housing crisis in Georgia takes multi-agency and organization collaboration.

Family Of Five Playing On Sofa At Home on couch in livingroom

The housing crisis in Georgia is significantly impacting low-income individuals and families who live in both urban and rural areas across our state. When Georgians struggle to find an affordable place to live, the likelihood of negative health outcomes increases. Expensive housing also means less resources for necessities such as healthy food and health care. No one should have to choose between having a safe place to live and their health.

As the state’s only nonprofit Medicaid plan, CareSource believes affordable housing is a health care issue. Health care is more than treating physical illnesses. It’s about caring for the whole health of people and the communities where they live. Our goal is to address social determinants of health and remove barriers people face when working to become healthy. Affordable, stable and safe housing is the foundation of a healthy life, which is why solving this need is at the core of our mission.

Jason Anavitarte, Director, Health Equity and Life Services, CareSource Georgia Speaking at American Rural Prosperity Summit to announce $1 million investment for affordable housing in rural Georgia.

Jason Anavitarte, Director, Health Equity and Life Services, CareSource Georgia. He is speaking at the American Rural Prosperity Summit to announce $1 million investment for affordable housing in rural Georgia.

Our company recently took action to address the crisis in Georgia by investing $3.5 million in affordable housing. The first investment was a $2.5 million investment with Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership (ANDP) for affordable housing in Metro Atlanta. The second was a $1 million investment with Volunteers of America (VOA) for affordable housing in rural Georgia.

CareSource’s investment will allow for the acquisition and rehabilitation of 75 single-family rental homes in the Metro Atlanta region and help create affordable housing opportunities in multiple rural counties, including Lowndes, Randolph, Ware, Tift and Walker.

Why is it important that organizations across Georgia come together to help solve the affordable housing crisis? Lack of affordable housing has far-reaching consequences that impact the overall health of our state.

More money spent on housing means less is allocated for health care

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Georgia residents must make at least $20.97 an hour to afford a two-bedroom rental home. Working at the state’s minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, they would need to work at least 2.9 full-time jobs and work 116 hours a week.

Low-income families who spend a sizable percentage of their salaries and wages on housing also must allocate a significant portion of their monthly budget to health care expenses. Spending a disproportionate share of income on housing often forces people to cut back on or eliminate preventative care visits, needed medications or purchasing healthier foods.

Substandard or unstable housing conditions increase the risk of health problems

It’s not just the cost of housing that impacts the physical health of low-income residents. Researchers have linked poor health to inferior housing. Georgia residents who live in substandard housing are at a higher risk of lead poisoning (from lead in the paint on the walls or inadequate plumbing) and asthma and other respiratory illnesses (caused by poor air quality that leads to a high concentration of indoor pathogens, such as mold and dust mites).

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From left, Jason Bearden (CareSource), Mayor Dickens, Ashani O’Mard (Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership), Sheryl-Anne Murray (CareSource)

Additionally, people who face housing instability, which can include falling behind on rent, moving frequently or overcrowded living conditions are more likely to experience poor mental health. Housing instability is linked to mental health and behavioral issues in children such as increased risks of teen pregnancy, drug use and depression. According to Evidence Matters eviction can negatively impact mental health, including increased risk of depression and suicide.

We have only scratched the surface regarding the link between housing and health. Solving the affordable housing crisis will require considerable human and financial capital from a wide variety of stakeholders, including health care providers, insurance companies, local/state/federal agencies and nonprofit/philanthropic organizations.

To learn more about how CareSource is making a lasting impact across the state of Georgia, visit

Jason Bearden is CareSource Georgia President. CareSource is a nonprofit, nationally recognized managed care organization with over 2 million members and administers one of the largest Medicaid managed care plans in the U.S. As a mission-driven organization, CareSource is transforming health care with innovative programs that address the social determinants of health, health equity and access to care.


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