On February 10, Representatives Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Joe Crowley (D-NY), along with 12 other House Democrats, sent a letter to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requesting that the agency modify the tax form used by non-profit hospitals to encourage investments in evidence-based housing interventions that promote community health. Currently, the tax form does not include housing improvements and other upstream activities as “community benefits,” and as a result, hospitals are discouraged from participating in housing-related activities.
The letter states, “According to recent public health reports, the physical environment in which an individual lives— in addition to socio-economic factors—may be responsible for up to 50 percent of an individual or community’s health outcomes. Moreover, public health experts believe that interventions targeting these determinants of health can be even more effective in improving the health of individuals and communities than clinical care alone. There is widespread consensus that affordable, healthy and safe housing in particular is essential for positive health outcomes. The reverse is also true: homelessness or unsafe and unhealthy housing can cause illness, aggravate chronic conditions and lead to lifelong health issues. The longer a child experiences homelessness or unsafe housing and the younger they are, the greater the cumulative toll of negative health outcomes on the child, family and community.”
Additional signers on the letter are Representatives Gwen Moore (D-WI), John Garamendi (D-CA), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ron Kind (D-WI), Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Joyce Beatty (D-OH), John Delaney (D-MD), Robert Brady (D-PA), John Larson (D-CT), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Barbara Lee (D-CA).
Read the letter here: http://ellison.house.gov/sites/ellison.house.gov/files/2.11.16-IRSLetter.pdf