Print
Health Care

Housing As A Health Concern

By Cece Nunn, posted Feb 1, 2019
Scott Whisnant, administrator of community affairs for New Hanover Regional Medical Center, speaks Jan. 17 during the Cape Fear Housing Coalition’s session on affordable housing. (Photo by Cece Nunn)
Housing and health are inextricably linked, experts said during a recent session in Wilmington on the area’s increasing need for affordable housing.

Efforts to push affordable housing into the public policy spotlight are on the rise in the city this year, with the region’s largest employer and health care provider weighing in on the topic during a recent session hosted by the Cape Fear Housing Coalition on Jan. 17 at City Hall in downtown Wilmington.

While officials at New Hanover Regional Medical Center don’t want to be in the business of building housing, it is a concern for the health care organization for numerous reasons, said Scott Whisnant, NHRMC administrator of community affairs, during the CFHC event.

Giving an example of the kind of impact homelessness can have, Whisnant said one homeless patient alone made 131 visits to the emergency department.

“It’s costing you because when we have to fund this we have to recover our costs so everybody who pays for health care is paying for this,” Whisnant said.

He said the hospital has been trying to work with the resources that already exist in Wilmington, including working with a local recuperative care facility, where homeless patients who are ready to be discharged but not well enough for life on the streets can receive shelter and care, that is operated and owned by churches.

The hospital also has become more involved in the area’s coordinated entry list, a list compiled by various agencies, which at the time of Whisnant’s talk included more than 60 people who have been validated and screened and are waiting in line to get housing.

NHRMC recently used a $50,000 donation it was given to help shelter and provide needed funding to some of those who lost their homes during Hurricane Florence.

Another reason why affordable housing is a health issue is the toxic stress that can be caused by homelessness or home insecurity, Whisnant said.

But there are multiple problems standing in the way of affordable housing in the area, he said.

“Maybe we can come together and work on fixing them,” Whisnant said. “We’re unclear as a community on how to create affordable housing.”

Suzanne Rogers, community development and housing planner for the city, said Wilmington needs 10,000 affordable housing units to meet the current demand, according to federal government figures.

Rogers gave a presentation Jan. 22 to Wilmington City Council on the topic of affordable housing.

She revisited the recommendations made in 2017 by an ad hoc city-county committee on the topic of affordable housing, suggesting that one of the recommendations that could be put into place this year is establishing a permanent housing advisory committee in concert with New Hanover County.

Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo and City Manager Sterling Cheatham said officials are working on setting up a joint city-county meeting on affordable housing to address the affordable housing recommendations from two years ago.
Ico insights

INSIGHTS

SPONSORS' CONTENT
Drewsmith copiersplus headshot

Ditch The Fax Line - Gain The Benefits

Drew Smith - Copiers Plus
Carolinemontgomery4

Don't Procrastinate - How Waiting To File Your Taxes Can Hurt You

Caroline Montgomery - Adam Shay CPA, PLLC
Alycephillipsnew2

Tax Reminders

Alyce Phillips - Old North State Trust LLC

Trending News

Earth Fare Shares Layoff Numbers, Additional Closure Details

Cece Nunn - Feb 17, 2020

Dosher Hospital CEO Stepping Down

Cece Nunn - Feb 17, 2020

Office Opens At CFCC To Help Firms Gain Federal Contracts

Christina Haley O'Neal - Feb 17, 2020

In The Current Issue

NHRMC Issue Draws Outside Attention

While very much a local issue, what to do with New Hanover Regional Medical Center is gaining attention from the state level....


Distillery Aims For Spirited Success

The 4,800-square-foot distillery with full cocktail bar, lounge, tasting room and event space is housed in a WWII-era Quonset hut....


Propelling ILM's Future

In the decades since, ILM’s route map has opened up as passenger levels increased and additional airlines came, but airport officials say th...

Book On Business

The 2020 WilmingtonBiz: Book on Business is an annual publication showcasing the Wilmington region as a center of business.

Order Your Copy Today!


Galleries

Videos

2019 Health Care Heroes
August 26, 2019 Power Breakfast: A Healthy Sale?
2019 WILMA Leadership Accelerator
2019 WilmingtonBiz Expo Keynote Lunch - CEO, nCino, Pierre Naude`