Equity and Health in Housing Coverage: A Preliminary News Analysis from Northern California
2019 | Read the full report.
Housing impacts health in widespread, well-documented ways that affect both quality and length of life. As a key determinant of health, housing instability stands to widen already stark racial and health inequities. As such, a growing number of public health organizations and practitioners are seeking ways to ensure all residents have access to safe, affordable homes.
While the connection between housing and health is clear, there is less research and even fewer recommendations on how public health practitioners can engage in addressing this challenging issue. This is especially true when it comes to communication, leaving public health practitioners with little guidance on how they can talk about housing strategically to support policy and systems changes that decrease racial and health inequities.
Understanding how the news media frame housing policy—and whether a health frame is included—can help address this research gap and support practitioners in more effectively strengthening housing policy. That’s because news coverage provides a window into the public discourse around any issue and sets the agenda for what issues the public and policymakers think about—and how they think about them. News coverage also influences what solutions people support.
To better understand how the housing crisis is portrayed in the news, PHI's Berkeley Media Studies Group (BMSG) analyzed coverage from the San Francisco Bay Area—the epicenter of the crisis—and paid special attention to how equity and health appear in the news, providing insights for housing advocates working across the country.