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County staff speaks at Human Service Summit

The intersection between health and housing took center stage yesterday, at the 2019 Human Service Summit, hosted by United Community Services (UCS) of Johnson County.

Elizabeth Holzschuh, an epidemiologist at Johnson County Department of Health and Environment, co-presented a session called “Health Starts at Home – a Look at Local Health and Hosing Data,” along with Julie Brewer, UCS executive director. Below are some key facts Holzschuh shared.

  • Johnson County residents are spending 30% or more of their income on housing, which makes prioritizing other bills difficult and leads to tough choices about how to spend their limited remaining income.
  • This stress leads to both physical (18% of residents) and emotional (33% of residents) symptoms, and research shows this chronic stress can increase your risk of conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes.
  • Social/emotional support is critical for well-being, and 1 in 9 (12%) of Johnson County adults lack social or emotional support.
  • Increasing social connectedness (which has decreased when looking at the Social Capital Index Score and community feedback) could help solve some of these problems.

Also at the event, Johnson County Department of Health and Environment Deputy Director Mary M. Beverly, MPH, served as a panelist on a discussion about why accessible housing choices matter.  

“When a person or family cannot afford to pay their rent or mortgage, this means that they may not be able to pay their medical bills, car payment or plan for unexpected expense. This can put a person or family into a downward spiral,” said Beverly. “We want to get ahead of this situation and prevent it from happening in the first place.”

You can access UCS data on homelessness, health insurance coverage and other data at this link.


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