Good Housing: It’s Foundational

A student starts her day with breakfast in an attractive, well-functioning kitchen. Last night when she went to bed, she was warm and secure, able to rest well. Thanks in part to good housing, she will go to school ready to learn, free of stresses that can undercut or distract from the subjects being taught.

The ultimate goal of the Reuse Center at Boston Building Resources, in providing affordable building materials to low- and moderate-income people in our community, is to make it possible for them to maintain, repair, and improve their housing, thus building a foundation for a better quality of life.

Jonathan Rose, in his lecture “The Entwinement of Housing and Well-Being” at the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, called housing “the safe place that is physically, psychologically, and environmentally safe, non-chaotic, and nurturing. It is becoming increasingly clear that such housing is the ground of physical and mental health.” A 2013 study by Boston College and Tufts researchers found that “poor housing quality was the most consistent and strongest predictor of emotional and behavioral problems in low-income children and youth. It also had a sizable association with school performance among older youth. Housing affected children because the stress of living in unhealthy and unsafe conditions affected parenting.”

The impact of stable, good quality housing on health became so clear to one insurance company that they went into the housing business so that people with chronic health conditions aggravated by housing deficiencies could better manage their care and avoid acute episodes. The National Housing Conference agrees, pointing out that both mental and physical health are affected: “Stable, affordable homeownership may positively impact mental health by increasing the control that homeowners have over their physical environment and minimizing the disruptions associated with frequent, unwanted moves.”

Reuse Center customers (such as Jeff and Eligia) tell us that, with access to affordable materials, they can make more improvements to their homes within their limited budgets. With materials available at about one-quarter of the prices found in a typical big-box store, a homeowner can stretch his or her dollars four times as far, building that secure foundation more quickly.

As we near the end of 2014, we are seeking charitable contributions to support the work of the Reuse Center at Boston Building Resources. On a daily basis, we go about our work of bringing in donated materials, processing them, and selling them to our customers. About 85% of sales are made to income-qualified clients. As they repair and improve their homes, they also increase their “pride of place,” strengthening the fabric of their neighborhoods.

Ultimately, we are all building something together: the foundation of a better community.

Please help us by making a contribution today.