Health and Wellness
Problems in housing can lead to problems in health, and vice versa. In order to break the cycle of poverty, people need a home and the tools to manage their health.
- If you are homeless and have diabetes, how are you supposed to refrigerate your insulin?
- If you have an unexpected, expensive medical bill, but only make $7.25 an hour, how are you supposed to pay your rent?
- If you don’t have a car, work two jobs, and can’t afford a place near public transportation, how are you supposed to get your children to their wellness visits when the doctor’s office is open?
The above questions are just a few examples of how health and housing influence each other.
Living Healthier Lives
We address hunger by providing onsite food pantries where we provide healthy foods to our residents. To help Mercy Housing residents live healthier lives, we offer a range of health and wellness services. Fitness classes and physical activity programs invigorate the body and mind. Cooking classes teach how to shop on a budget and prepare healthy meals. Free health screenings help residents manage their health. And at many of our properties, Mercy Housing staff help residents sign up for health insurance and navigate the complex health care system. These and other services are all offered onsite.
Helping Seniors Stay Healthy
In Phoenix, AZ, our senior residents are taking charge of their health by enrolling in Mercy Housing’s Chronic Disease Self-Management (CDSM) and Matter of Balance (MOB) programs!
The CDSM program helps improve residents’ health literacy by covering several health-related topics, including how to deal with difficult emotions, manage the symptoms of their conditions, set goals, solve problems, understand medication labels, make informed medical decisions, and more! Around 40% of our residents are at risk of falling. The MOB program helps seniors increase strength and balance through exercise.
At our communities with Resident Services, among those who responded to our survey:
- 90% of senior residents and 75% of all residents reported having a primary care provider.
- 97% of residents reported having health insurance.
- 94% of senior residents reported having had a checkup in the previous year.
- Residents reported that they exercised an average of 4 days a week.
Challenges Facing Residents:
- Limited access to healthy food
- Difficulty accessing and navigating healthcare system
- Difficulty obtaining high-quality health care
- Limited access to preventive care
- Limited access to resources related to staying healthy
- Few opportunities/places to exercise
Opportunities Offered at Mercy Housing Communities
- Food banks and pantries with healthy food options
- Help obtain health insurance, preventive screenings, and access health care
- Wellness workshops on how to manage chronic diseases and improve health
Pursing Health with Others – Carla’s Story
For Carla, a resident at the Miriam Apartments in Chicago, exercise and healthy eating aren’t short-term objectives; they’re a way of life. She is a stroke, heart attack, and two-time cancer survivor who understands how exercise and healthy eating can improve a person’s quality of life.
“I know the right kinds of food and the wrong kinds of food. I know what makes me feel good and what makes me feel bad. I want to feel good,” she said.
Carla participated in a “Feel Better Challenge,” an annual eight-week fitness and healthy lifestyle program held in our Chicago region. She didn’t limit herself to the special Feel Better programs and activities available at her community; she also took advantage of programs being offered at Mercy Housing properties around the city, like group exercise classes, therapeutic arts and crafts sessions, meditation, and yoga.
She was also a source of inspiration and motivation to other women in the building. “I used to go knocking on doors to get people walking. Now the ladies come to find me,” said Carla.
What’s more, Carla was one of two residents recently accepted into a leadership program for GirlTrek, a national nonprofit that mobilizes African-American women to live their healthiest, most fulfilled lives through daily walking.
- Impact of Service-Enriched Housing on Health Outcomes – May 2014 results of resident services survey
- Health in Residence: Exploring Housing as a platform for addressing health needs – a joint report by Mercy Housing and The Colorado Coalition for the Medically Underserved
- Afterschool KidzLit Pilot – 2013-2014 Final Report