Study Draws Connection Between Housing Instability and Negative Health Effects
A new study entitled, “Unstable Housing and Caregiver and Child Health in Renter Families,” from Boston Medical Center’s Children’s HealthWatch program finds housing instability, including chronically late rent payments, can affect the mental and physical health of family members of all ages.
Over a period of five years in five urban medical centers nationwide, the researchers surveyed and interviewed 22,324 low-income families with a series of questions about chronic forms of housing instability, and rated both the caregiver’s and child’s health.
Thirty-four percent of the families surveyed who had children ages 4 and below faced at least one form of housing instability; 27 percent fell behind on rent at least two times in the past year, 8 percent had moved at least twice in the past year, and 12 percent had a history of homelessness.
The study found caregivers of young children in low-income unstable housing are subjected to significant negative health effects, becoming two times more likely than those in stable housing to be in fair or poor health, and almost three times more likely to report depressive symptoms. Children aged 4 and under in these families had almost a 20 percent increased risk of hospitalization, and over a 25 percent increased risk of developmental delays.