To be in good health, it’s important for families to have access to quality, stable housing. According to research published in the journal Pediatrics, families who struggle with housing instability are more likely to have higher rates of poor health and food insecurity.
Researchers followed more than 22,000 low-income families who rented houses for nearly six years. One-third of the families experienced some form of housing instability, usually falling behind on rent payments. Twelve percent of the families surveyed experienced homelessness, and 8 percent experienced multiple moves. When visiting medical clinics and emergency rooms under those circumstances, the mothers were significantly more likely to express symptoms of depression and rate their children’s health as poor or fair.
These findings underscore the importance of quality, stable housing as a public health issue for families. Kids who live in poor housing conditions, such as in apartments with mold or pests, have higher rates of asthma and accident-related injuries. Frequent moves also can negatively impact their academic performance.
The findings in this study encourage medical professionals to ask about families’ housing situations when examining the members’ overall health to determine if housing instability is playing a factor. If so, local and state programs may be able to help. For example, programs that provide low- or no-cost meals and groceries can help parents put money toward rent payments.
Helping families secure stable housing can allow them to thrive and greatly improve their kids’ overall health.