Strategic Housing Code Enforcement and Public Health

Housing code enforcement—the local government process of administering and enforcing housing codes designed to ensure safe and habitable housing conditions—is one of the primary strategies for connecting and improving our housing and our health.

But housing code enforcement is often structured to alleviate immediate safety concerns or easily visible problems rather than to address and improve residents’ long-term health. Additionally, code enforcement agencies often work separately from public health organizations, making it difficult to work across sectors to solve interrelated problems.

In this report, we examine how housing code enforcement in Memphis, Tennessee, could prioritize public health as a key outcome and better coordinate with public health agencies, community health nonprofits, and other health care institutions. We use both qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis to explore how housing code enforcement works and how it might expand to address public health as a key outcome.

We explore these potential health impacts in Memphis as a model that other communities can apply and adapt.

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