Physician To Address Health Dangers Of Substandard Housing

Nationally recognized pediatric physician and scholar Dr. Megan Sandel will speak in Columbus in late September on the dire impact that substandard or overcrowded housing, concentrated poverty and unsafe neighborhoods has on the health of residents -- particularly children.

Dr. Sandel, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health, has authored with other doctors a breakthrough national report on how housing affects child health. She has also worked for solutions related to child asthma and lead poisoning.

Dr. Sandel’s Columbus presentations on Sept. 30 will serve as a public launch of the newly formed, 11-member Affordable Housing Alliance of Central Ohio, according to Amy Klaben, President/CEO of Homeport and vice chair of the Housing Alliance.

“Central Ohio has a shortfall of 54,000 decent, affordable homes,” Klaben said. “As a community we have to come together to address its economic, health and education impacts.  Dr. Sandel can shine a spotlight on how it affects children, seniors, everyone.”

The Housing Alliance is hosting Dr. Sandel’s appearances along with Enterprise Community Partners, Nationwide Children’s Hospital and The Ohio State University Knowlton School of Architecture.

Dr. Sandel’s first public speech in Columbus is noon to 1:15 p.m. at a Columbus Metropolitan Club luncheon forum. The presentation is titled “Pulling at the Roots of Poverty: Housing as a Vaccine.” Registration is now open.

"As a physician, I view a stable decent affordable home as like a vaccine for kids," Dr. Sandel said. "It keeps them healthy now and in the future. I am thrilled to come to Columbus to share that important message and encourage greater community awareness and participation."

Dr. Sandel’s second presentation that day is 5:30 p.m. at Knowlton Hall’s Gui Auditorium on the OSU campus, 275 W. Woodruff Avenue. Free of charge, Dr. Sandel’s remarks will be part of the Baumer Lecture Series. No reservation is needed. 

The Housing Alliance believes Dr. Sandel’s comments can draw attention to a glaring statistic, that 63 percent of extremely low-income Central Ohio families are spending more than half their income on housing, creating economic distress, health problems and poor academics.

MidOhio Habitat for Humanity President & CEO E.J. Thomas, the Housing Alliance chair, said the visit by Dr. Sandel could prove to be transformational in improving the lives of Central Ohio children, from how well they do in school to preparing them to be productive in the workforce.

“The Alliance and its 11 charter members is very pleased to be hosting Dr. Sandel’s visit, which will give the Columbus community the opportunity to learn how vitally important safe and secure housing and neighborhoods are to our children,” Thomas said.

As part of Dr. Sandel’s visit she is also expected to meet with business and philanthropy leaders, city and state public officials and others. She will also visit Nationwide Children’s Hospital.