Healthy Rowhouse Project

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The Remarkable Relation Between Your Health and Your Zip Code

Red gradients indicate shorter life spans within census tracts while blue gradients indicate longer life spans. (Dark red = shortest / Dark blue = longest)

Your zip code has a greater effect on your health and life expectancy than you may have expected, according to an Associated Press analysis of data from the National Center for Health Statistics. “A distance of only a few miles can produce profound differences in how long you are likely to live.” For example, in Birmingham, Chester County, PA the median income is over $166,000 and the average life expectancy is an outstanding 89 years old. In Delaware County’s Chester Township, where the average median income is about $40,000, life expectancy drops to 67 years old.

This trend is true across Philadelphia neighborhoods as well. According to a 2018 article from the Philly Inquirer “in Philadelphia’s Spring Garden section, where 97 percent of adults completed high school, you’ll probably live to be 87 years old or more. But in West Philadelphia’s Mantua, where one-third of the population didn’t graduate from secondary school, your life expectancy is just 66 years.” In Strawberry Mansion’s census tract, the average life expectancy is 64 years old, 17 minutes away in Lower Merion, the average life expectancy climbs to 92 years of age.  James Ziliak, the director of the Center for Poverty Research at the University of Kentucky said, “Presenting data like this is very informative because it presents in a very stark way how economic inequality and inequality of opportunity can manifest itself in huge differences in life expectancy.” Lower-income Philadelphians often live in substandard housing conditions and attend failing schools in disinvested communities. These factors all play a huge role in the health and life expectancies of Philadelphians.

The Healthy Rowhouse Project recognizes this problem and understands that housing is social determinant of health. Through programs such as the City of Philadelphia sponsored Restore, Repair, Renew home repair loan program, Clarifi, a program manager, is working to combat these problems. The Restore, Repair, Renew program allows Philadelphians with incomes below 120% of area median income to make health-based repairs and renovations to their homes. By making these repairs, with a low interest fixed rate loan. By making these repairs affordable and accessible safe housing will be preserved in Philadelphia, giving low-and moderate-income Philadelphians the opportunity to improve the health and safety of their homes.