Brianne Schell, J.D., M.A., serves as a Staff Attorney with the Network for Public Health Law Eastern Region, as well as with the Legal Resource Center for Public Health Policy at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law. Her passion for public health and policy began with her undergraduate studies – she received her Bachelor of Science in Public Health with a specialization in Sociology from the Ohio State University College of Public Health in 2018. Since then, she has volunteered with legal and human services organizations, conducted legal and policy research with the Ohio General Assembly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and multiple non-profit public health-focused organizations. Brianne received both her JD from the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and her MA in Public Policy and Management from the Ohio State University John Glenn College of Public Affairs in 2021. When she isn’t working, Brianne enjoys travelling both within the US and internationally, marking eight countries off her list thus far (China, India, Finland, Estonia, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Czech Republic), and hoping to do more of northern Europe after the pandemic.

Articles & Resources

Federal Court Upholds County’s Ban on Flavored Tobacco

Law & Policy InsightsMechanisms for Advancing Public HealthSubstance Use Prevention and Harm Reduction

May 18, 2022
by Brianne Schell

Preserving the ability of states and local governments to regulate the sale of tobacco, especially flavored tobacco which is popular with youth, is crucial for protecting public health. In September 2019, Los Angeles County adopted an ordinance banning the sale of all flavored tobacco products, which was subsequently challenged in court by R.J. Reynolds which claimed the ordinance was preempted by the Tobacco Control Act (TCA). The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently upheld the ordinance, concluding that the TCA does not preempt state and local governments from banning the sale of flavored tobacco.

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Understanding the Intersection Between Climate Change, Housing, and Public Health

Webinars

May 3, 2022
by Betsy Lawton and Brianne Schell

Climate change is a public health threat that has already begun to erode the availability of safe and accessible housing, a critical social determinant of health. Climate-caused extreme weather events, like increased flooding are not experienced equally across all populations; rather, the primary harms are being disproportionately experienced by frontline communities of color and those living in low-income neighborhoods. Health equity requires identifying law and policy solutions that prioritize the needs of communities most vulnerable to climate harms and understanding the role that climate change plays in undermining housing security. Attend this webinar to learn about these topics, which will include a climate-focused lens as well as identifying law and policy approaches to housing affordability and availability. 

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Law and Policy Pathways to Increase Affordable Housing

PathwaysHealthy and Affordable Housing

April 20, 2022
by Brianne Schell

About 36 percent of households in the U.S. rent their homes and nearly half spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent. This cost burden means many renters are unable to allocate resources for other important needs such as healthcare, education, and healthy food. Studies have shown that when families gain access to affordable housing, whether rented or owned, their health and quality of life improves. This resource outlines laws and policies, including investing in public housing, mortgage and homeownership assistance, and zoning law reforms that have shown a proven track record of success

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Policy Approaches for Improving Housing Affordability and Availability

Law & Policy InsightsHealthy and Affordable HousingMechanisms for Advancing Health Equity

March 10, 2022
by Brianne Schell

Financial disparities exist in a multitude of areas including home ownership, credit scores, and access to banking services; and are linked to health disparities in maternal and child health, mental health, and substance use disorders. Community organizations can play a role in reducing these disparities by providing financial education and planning, increasing access to banking services, and providing help for those who find themselves in the grip of predatory lenders and payday loans.

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Zoning Reform

Fact SheetHealthy and Affordable Housing

March 10, 2022
by Brianne Schell

The U.S. severely lacks affordable housing. Countless government and non-profit sponsored programs aiming to increase the supply of affordable housing have been established around the country (mortgage assistance programs, community land trusts, etc.), but for them to operate effectively, zoning laws must first allow the development of affordable housing units. This fact sheet examines various zoning reforms that might be used to achieve health equity through housing.

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Mortgage and Homeownership Assistance

Fact SheetHealthy and Affordable Housing

January 11, 2022
by Brianne Schell

Research indicates that policies designed to facilitate home ownership may do more to improve health and wellbeing, as well as economic stability, than renter protections. Home ownership rates in the U.S. remain low, especially among Black and Hispanic residents. One of the significant barriers is the need for most first-time homebuyers to obtain mortgages, which require that they have decent credit scores, steady incomes, and cash reserves to qualify. Federal and state mortgage lenders and/or assistance programs can remove some of these barriers to homeownership.

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Public Housing and Social Determinants of Health

Fact SheetHealthy and Affordable Housing

December 15, 2021
by Brianne Schell

Public housing is one of three forms of rental assistance programs used in the U.S. and has the potential to improve public health by addressing the need for quality affordable housing. However, significant changes are needed to match the successes seen in other countries. This resource examines public housing programs in other countries, the current state of public housing in the U.S., and the need for federal policy changes and increased investment in public housing.

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COVID-19’s Impact on Childbirth: The Growing Popularity of Out-of-Hospital Deliveries and Barriers to Access

Law & Policy InsightsCOVID-19COVID-19 and Health EquityMaternal and Child Health

November 17, 2021
by Brianne Schell

Increased fear over the safety of hospitals along with policies designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including limiting the number of guests allowed in delivery rooms, mandating inductions or caesarian sections, and separating newborns from birthing parents suspected of having COVID-19, has driven many families to make the decision to give birth at home or at a birthing center. The increased demand for out-of-hospital deliveries has quickly overwhelmed the limited number of birth centers and midwives providing home birth services in the U.S.–highlighting a gap in the country’s healthcare system. Changes in state licensure schemes and practice regulations for midwives and birthing centers could make out-of-hospital births more accessible and affordable.

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