CommunityTalk event to focus on health and housing

By Lynne Vickerstaff
Special to The SUN
Representatives from several Pagosa Springs health agencies will participate in a panel discussion on Monday, Aug. 26, to discuss the impacts of our housing crisis on individuals and health care services.
The presentation, “Health and Housing,” is scheduled from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. and will take place at the Community United Methodist Church at 434 Lewis St.; it is free and open to the public, as part of the CommunityTalk series sponsored by Pagosa Housing Partners (PHP).
CommunityTalk is a series of monthly presentations aimed at informing the public in a lecture/conversational format about housing issues and their impacts on different segments of our community. Each month will be a different topic.
The first topic is “Health and Housing,” featuring guest panelists from Pagosa Springs Medical Center, Axis Health, the Archuleta County Department of Human Services and San Juan Basin Public Health. Guest speakers will include:
• Dr. Rhonda Webb, CEO, Pagosa Springs Medical Center.
• Diane Levison, community outreach, Pagosa Springs Medical Center.
• Victoria Garcia, engagement services manager, Axis Health System.
• Matthew Dodson, director, Archuleta County Department of Human Services.
• Sherri Dugdale, environmental public health director, San Juan Basin Public Health.
• Kalisha Crossland, prevention and population health director, San Juan Basin Public Health.
Americans typically spend about 90 percent of their time indoors and an estimated two-thirds of that time is spent in the home. But here in Pagosa, “the home” can be anywhere from a majestic 6,000-square-foot log cabin to the back seat of an older automobile or a tent in the National Forest and all ranges in between.
Factors related to housing have the potential to help — or hurt — our health in important ways. Healthy homes promote good physical and mental health, while poor-quality, inadequate housing contributes to health problems — such as chronic diseases and injuries — and can have particularly harmful effects on children and the elderly.
Housing is commonly considered to be “affordable” when a family spends no more than 30 percent of its household income to rent or purchase their home regardless of income level. Forty-five percent of Colorado is considered above the 30 percent threshold. Shortage of housing that is affordable limits choices about where we live and disposable income available to spend on health.
A lack of affordable housing can affect a family’s ability to meet other essential needs, forcing trade-offs between food, heating, prescriptions, medical care and other basic necessities. One recent study found that children in communities with a high proportion of unaffordable housing tend to have worse health and more behavioral problems.
On the other side of the equation, a lack of housing options can make it difficult for health care providers to recruit employees — doctors, nurses, technicians, ambulance and emergency personnel, office administrators, etc. These challenges affect everyone in the community, even those who may have comfortable homes but who need occasional — or consistent — health care services.
PHP is a local nonprofit organization focused on developing housing choices in our community, and data-driven strategies for addressing our housing dilemma. With Pagosa’s expanding population, addressing the multigenerational aspect of our community by creating housing options for our younger generations, attracting new entrepreneurs and providing for our aging population maintains the health and progress of our community.
Join us for this discussion on health and housing on Monday, Aug. 26, from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. at the Community United Methodist Church on Lewis Street. The presentation is free and open to all.
You can learn more about PHP at www.pagosahousingpartners.org.

This story was posted on August 24, 2019.