Housing Stability & Health
Housing instability – including high housing costs in proportion to income, poor housing quality, overcrowding and multiple moves– has serious negative impacts on child and adult health.
• Children in unstable housing situations are less likely to get the food they need to live healthy lives, and may experience poorer health, lower than healthy weight and higher developmental risks – increasing their chances for life-long health problems.26,27,28
• Researchers have found that higher housing costs diminish families’ ability to afford food. For every $500 that average annual rents increase in a region, there is a 10 percent increase in food insecurity rates among low-income families.29
• For children, frequent moves have been linked to increased lifetime risk of depression.
• Researchers have found that even teetering right on the edge of housing instability harms children. Children of families that have missed a rent payment in the last year are more likely to be in poor health and are at higher risk of developmental delays than their stably housed peers. Mothers in these families suffer as well – having higher incidence of depression and poor health.
• High cost housing and instability is not just harmful for children. When adults need to make budget trade-offs between health care costs and other household needs due to housing costs, it leads to reduced access to regular care, postponing needed health care and postponing needed medications.
• A recent study found that compared to housing secure individuals, adults who felt worried or stressed about their ability to pay their rent or mortgage were three times more likely to report mental distress and were almost 50 percent more likely to have trouble sleeping – both of which can have long-term physical and mental health consequences.