The Linkage Between Housing Instability and Poor Health

Feb 2, 2018

by David Levine, President/CEO

The connection between safe and suitable housing and strong health outcomes has been well documented. Once securely housed, families can turn their attention to other basic human needs.

As one example, it might mean that the school-aged child in the family will remain anchored to a neighborhood school. Just by feeling more rooted to that school, the child will become more invested in school success and achievement. School success, in turn, can break the cycle of multigenerational poverty.

In this report on the linkage between housing instability and poor health, the authors show what can happen when a family is not secure in its housing. The stress of always having a depleted checking account, or not having a safe space to call home, can have deleterious effects on one’s body and mental health.

In a study of 22,234 low-income families, researchers found that the caregivers of young children experience negative health effects at twice the rate of those in stable housing. For pre-school children in these families, they had a 20 percent increased risk of hospitalizations and a more than 25 percent increased risk of developmental delays.

The study points to the effect stable housing has in reducing stress. Housing is by itself a counter-stressor for many low-income families. One of the researchers noted that “A stable home is the foundation to thrive. It is important for us to start thinking about creating more of that foundation…”

Housing matters for so many lifelong outcomes. It is a foundational part of a good life. It really matters.