Housing is Health

Housing is Health: A message from Rebuild Upstate President/CEO & Founder, Chris Manley 

It can be difficult to be certain of anything these days. The global coronavirus pandemic continues to challenge our everyday assumptions about how the world works. In just six months, COVID-19 challenged me to rethink how I parent, lead our team, and even how I buy groceries. But COVID didn’t change everything. In some cases, it only reinforced reality. In my fifteen years of involvement in affordable housing and home repair, I have never been more certain that the quality of our homes directly affects the quality of our lives. 

Growing research documents just how central “home” is to our physical, financial, and mental health. Substandard housing is a major public health issue. Poor housing conditions are associated with a wide range of physical health conditions, such as respiratory infections, asthma, lead poisoning, and bodily injuries¹. In South Carolina, 32% of households struggle to afford basic needs like food, clothing, and transportation because of high housing costs². Some homeowners cannot leave their house without assistance due to accessibility issues, which can lead to isolation and a decline in mental health.

Given our experience repairing more than 1,000 Upstate S.C. homes, we know that critical repairs can dramatically improve the health of a family. How? Just ask homeowner Ms. Pauline.

Ms. Pauline is a widow and mother of two adult children. When she reached out to Rebuild Upstate, her daughter’s asthma complications were at a dangerous level. The family doctor suggested Ms. P take a thorough look around her home because something “fuzzy” could be threatening her daughter’s breathing. The culprit was 40-year-old carpeting.  Ms. P could not afford to replace the carpet herself. In just one day, a team of volunteers from Clemson University removed the carpeting (which also formed a tripping hazard to Ms. P, a senior) and installed a new ramp for the family at no cost to Ms. P. After repairs, Ms. P reported a dramatic improvement in her daughter’s asthma condition.

Ms. Pauline’s story compels me to keep working. I am proud to say in 2019, Rebuild Upstate donors, partners, and volunteers contributed to the completion of 478 home repair projects. That’s 478 improvements to the health of our neighbors. That’s better performance in school, fewer hospital visits, and improved mental health for Upstate families.

Learn how you can make an impact on Upstate families by attending Wake Up with Rebuild. Invite your neighbors, your co-workers, your family, and your friends to this one-hour, free, virtual event. You’ll hear directly from an Upstate homeowner Ms. Paulette to learn more about how critical home repairs improved her health – and how volunteers made it possible. Won’t you join us?

Grace and peace,
Chris Manley
President/CEO & Founder