Sunday Public Health in Housing

A Year of Gratitude: Promising Practices in Public Housing Primary Care (PHPC) Health Centers

Public housing residents can have various health issues that are impacted by where they live. In general, individuals that receive assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are more likely to have chronic health conditions and are higher utilizers of health care than the rest of the U.S. population, even more so than other low-income renters. There are currently 435 health center programs located in or immediately accessible to public housing, serving close to 5.2 million patients. Of those, 107 receive Public Housing Primary Care (PHPC) grants and serve approximately 866,851 patients. Across the nation, there are over 1.5 million residents living in public housing, and over 4 million receive voucher-funded assistance. Of those receiving voucher-funded assistance, a little over 388,000 live in combined project-based certificate and project-based voucher programs.


Across the nation, there are over 1.5 million residents living in public housing, and over 385,000 residents living in Section 8 Housing.


PHPC health centers have made great efforts to serve patients living in public housing developments. From mobile clinics to outreach programs, PHPC health centers have taken great strides to improve the quality of health care in public housing areas. NCHPH would like to commend the hard work that PHPC health centers have been doing to continue to ensure quality health care. Several innovations have been made to help address health issues that have emerged over the years. Listed below are some promising practices that PHPC health centers have accomplished over the past year:


  1. Community of Hope According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the maternal mortality rate has increased from 20.1 deaths in 2019 to 23.8 deaths in 2020 per 100,000 live births and non-Hispanic black women have been affected most when compared to women from other races. For non-Hispanic Black women, as of 2020, the mortality rate was 55.3 deaths per 100,000 live births, which is 2.9 times the rate for non-Hispanic White women. On June 24, 2022, President Biden and Vice President Harris approached the mortality crisis with a blueprint which addresses maternal mortality rates in the U.S. Community of Hope health center, in particular, has taken great strides in addressing the maternal mortality rate issue. Community of Hope, located in Washington, DC, opened an expanded family health and birth center this year. This new health center facility provides primary medical and emotional wellness to families and is also considered to be the only free-standing birth center in the area.
  2. Covenant Community Care Studies have shown that being of lower socioeconomic status is negatively associated with a person’s oral health. The most common oral health conditions seen in Michigan are dental caries, tooth loss, periodontal disease, and oral cancers. Detroit Public Schools Community District is Michigan’s largest public education system with 59.9% of students being economically disadvantaged, which can have negative implications on the oral health of the students. Covenant Community Care has a school-based dental team (SBDT) that collaborates with Detroit Public Schools (DPS). Through this collaboration and with the use of their Mobile Dental Care, they now have 3 teams that focus on providing prevention, restorative and head start services to children in the Metro Detroit area.
  3. Hudson Valley Community Services Some public housing developments are in rural areas. According to a recent NCHPH publication, rural residents are most likely to overdose on prescription painkillers. More than 60% of rural counties lack a single physician that can prescribe buprenorphine, and less than 10% of Opioid Treatment Programs are in rural areas. Hudson Valley Community Services, a division of Cornerstone Family Healthcare, recently started a new program on overdose and harm reduction prevention for people who use drugs. The program’s goal is to increase accessibility to medication for opioid use disorder. This program is done in combination with other syringe exchange programs, STD testing and case management programs. Free harm reduction supplies and information are also provided to clients as a result of this outreach program.
  4. San Ysidro Health According to the CDC, as of July 20, 2022, 54.3% of the Latino population in the U.S. have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19, while 63.6% have had at least one dose of the vaccine. In an effort to improve vaccine accessibility for Latino young adults, San Ysidro Health has started a new campaign to encourage and increase vaccinations. The campaign is called “Go! What are you waiting for?”, which is also part of a statewide initiative led by AltaMed Health Services targeting Latino individuals. The campaign not only offers COVID-19 vaccinations but also HIV testing, glucose and blood pressure screenings.


PHPC health centers are constantly working to actively address the needs of the populations that they serve. We would like to commend all PHPC health centers for the hard work that they do to address the needs of public housing residents. Challenges may arise in different forms, but we are strongly confident in the abilities of PHPC health centers to effectively address those challenges facing residents of public housing and other HUD-assisted households. As health centers continue to evolve and advance in terms of both quality and reach, we look forward to seeing future innovations benefit residents of public housing and other HUD-assisted households


NCHPH Resources:

Healthy Together: A Toolkit for Health Center Collaborations with HUD Assisted Housing and Community-Based Organizations (PDF Version or Interactive Version)

Collection of Promising Practices on Health Center and Housing Partnerships

Introduction to NCHPH Fact Sheet

A Health Picture of HUD-Assisted Adults, 2006–2012 (

Maternal Mortality Rates in the United States, 2020

Michigan State Oral Health Care 2020

Overview of Detroit Public Schools Community District

A Public Health Approach to Addressing the Opioid Epidemic and Substance Use Disorders in Public Housing Rural Communities


Trends in Demographic Characteristics of People Receiving COVID-19 Vaccinations in the United States


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