EDUCATION: NT Shelter Fact Sheet on Health and Housing

NT Shelter fact sheet shares scary statistics about the impact of housing on health.

Housing and health are linked; there is a direct association between crowding and adverse health outcomes including infectious disease and mental health problems.



Did you know that (from the fact sheet):
  • Crowding is the single most important and most consistent risk factor for upper respiratory tract carriage (presence of bacteria), and consequently the development of middle ear infections (otitis media) in Indigenous children
  • Children in homes with 3+ housing problems are 2.51 times as likely to have recurrent gastrointestinal infections. Housing problems are classed as major plumbing, electrical or structural problems, damp, mildew, vermin, and crowding
  • 75.6% of Territorians experiencing homelessness live in severely overcrowded conditions
  • 97.6% of people living in severely overcrowded dwellings are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
  •  98% of Acute Rheumatic Fever (ARF) reported in the NT is in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People
  • 556.5 years of life were lost amongst Indigenous Territorians in 2018 due to infections
  • 1,035 years if life were lost amongst Indigenous Territorians in 2018 due to respiratory disease
  • 62.14 years of life were lost amongst Indigenous Territorians in 2018 due to skin diseases
The Solution

The better planning of the house and the surrounding living environment can reduce crowding, and access to functioning health hardware, such as hot water, showers and clothes washing facilities, can reduce the health impacts of crowding.

More houses may reduce the negative impacts of crowding, however the example in The Guide shows that it is also necessary to design for peak populations. This can be achieved by providing more health hardware in houses, ensuring access is possible to the health hardware, developing the yard and edges of houses to provide more household service, cooling and heating several rooms in the house, providing additional sleeping areas for guests, and ensuring the health hardware in most houses in a community is functioning most of the time through regular maintenance.

Read more about Reducing the negative impacts of crowding in The Guide (here).


Unfortunately, we are aware of and see first-hand the housing problems which are the cause of these serious health issues. We welcome such succinct and easy-to-understand educational resources to broader the conversation about the direct link crowding has on health to encourage regular repairs and maintenance programs in housing.