Mental Health is Health

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Published  May 29 – Marshall News Messenger

Posted  May 30 – Ne Texas LinkedIn and LJ personal linked in

Included in NETHFH electronic Newsletter June

Mental Health is Health. The House You Live in Matters More than You Think.

 LaJuan Gordon

May 25, 2022

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and where we live impacts our health more than

you think. A sound, affordable home is much more than a structure. It directly affects emotional and physical health. With one in four people in Northeast Texas living in unhealthy, dangerous, cost-burdened, or overcrowded homes, housing stability and its connection to mental health need our attention. 

The Centers for Disease Control cited housing as one of the six primary social detriments to health. Lower-income individuals, people of color, and the elderly are more likely to experience the adverse effect. People with lower incomes tend to live in places with mold, pollutants, lead, malfunctioning sanitation, inadequate ventilation, and exposure to the elements from structural damage. These houses are often located in high poverty, under-resourced, or high crime areas, contributing to more stress, lower self-esteem, and higher social isolation and depression incidences.

The cost of housing may create a financial burden for the household, too. Paying more than 30% of your monthly income for rent and utilities means there aren’t enough dollars left over for healthcare, home repairs, or moving to a better environment. Overcrowding contributes to sleep disturbances and relationship difficulties and reduces successful educational outcomes for children. Of the one in four NE Texas residents mentioned earlier, one in seven of them are severely burdened by paying more than 50% of their monthly income for a roof over their head. 

By making homes safe and affordable, we can achieve living environments that heal, and foster self-reliance and financial peace. Affordable and hazard-free homes assure that the household has the financial means to seek medical and mental health care when they need it, make repairs and save for emergencies or education to improve work skills.  

A one-size-fits-all governmental program cannot solve the housing crisis in America.

While it’s true that programs exist today to assist low-income renters and buyers, it isn’t coming close to meeting the need. Right now, there are only thirty-five subsidized units available for every one hundred households experiencing housing poverty. And the stock continues to decline faster than it can be replaced.  

Intentional investment in healthy and affordable homes will significantly improve lives and the communities that drive it. To make a difference 

  • Support non-profit housing organizations in creating safe and affordable home solutions.
  • Advocate for legislation that invests more in neighborhood revitalization and affordable living.
  • Endorse incentives to developers or local jurisdictions that adopt innovative methods to build faster, inexpensively, or sustainably. 
  • Create effective mortgage products that make homeownership obtainable to reliable lower-income borrowers. 

Finally, friends, if you or someone you know is in crisis or are experiencing lasting feelings of hopelessness, anger, or depression, you don’t have to battle it alone. Reach out to a trusted friend, advisor, mental health professional, or one of the organizations below. You may also visit for an extensive list of organizations offering free, confidential help.  

The National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline

1-800-950-NAMI(6264) ( Mon-Fri 10a-10p, ET)

Text NAMI to 741-741- 24/7

Live Chat at -24/7  

National Suicide Prevention Hotline 

1-800-273-TALK (8255) 24/7 

Veterans Crisis Line 

1-800-273-8255 and press 1 

National Youth in Crisis Hotline 

1-800-442-HOPE (4673) 

The Trevor Project (LGBTQ suicide help) 


Text (202) 304-1200

About The Author

LaJuan Gordon, is the Chief Executive Officer of Northeast Texas Habitat for Humanity, serving Gregg, Harrison, and Upshur counties, headquartered in Longview, TX. During her tenure, more than five hundred households have achieved safer, healthier, and more affordable living conditions through a NE Texas Habitat program.  She has twenty-five years of experience in the non-profit industry including executive leadership, consulting, program development, strategic planning, resource development, and disaster preparedness and response.   

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