Study Looks at Cost of Unstable Housing to Health System
Unstable housing will cost the United States $111 billion in avoidable healthcare costs and education expenditures over the next 10 years, according to research from Children’s Healthwatch, one of the nation’s leading networks of pediatricians, public health researchers, and children’s health policy experts.
The group used economic modeling consistent with methods used by the Congressional Budget Office to estimate the child and caregiver health-related costs of families living in unstable homes. Families who are unstably housed have experienced at least one of the following conditions in the previous year:
- Were unable to pay rent or mortgage on time;
- Moved two or more times; or
- Were homeless.
The group estimates that 10.2 million children and their families could’ve avoided preventable health conditions if they were living in stable homes in 2016. In addition, according to estimates, assuming the current number of families living in unstable homes persists, the U.S. health system will spend $76.8 billion treating mothers experiencing worse physical and mental health and $34.3 billion treating children over the next 10 years. Such costs include more hospitalizations, medications, dental procedures, ambulance visits, mental health care services, and special education services for children.
Accordingly, the group offers policy recommendations to increase the supply of affordable homes, to provide resources that help families meet the demands of rent, and to direct investments from healthcare to affordable homes. One recommendation is to expand the LIHTC. Using the tax code and potential tax reform opportunities to expand access to stable homes sets families on a healthier trajectory and saves the health system money. Furthermore, the group advocates reinvesting revenues from proposed changes to the Mortgage Interest Tax Deduction, which would generate revenues by capping the deduction for wealthy homeowners, into programs that increase low- and moderate-income-families’ ability to afford stable homes.