ITASCA, Ill. — Struggling to pay rent each month can have a negative effect on adults’ and children’s health. A recent study examined the housing status of more than 22,000 low-income renter families over a period of five and a half years. Specifically, they asked caregivers questions about their family’s housing stability: have they ever experienced homelessness, multiple moves, or being behind on rent.
The study, “Unstable Housing and Caregiver and Child Health in Renter Families,” published in the February 2018 issue of Pediatrics, found that one out of every three low-income renter households experienced at least one form of housing instability, with falling behind on rent being the most common issue. Results showed that 27% of low-income renters experienced falling behind on rent, 12% had a history of homelessness, and 8% experienced multiple moves. Researchers noted however, that there is little overlap between these experiences, with 86% of the renters reporting only one adverse housing circumstance.
Families who experience unstable housing situations have increased odds of poor caregiver and child health, and they also experience higher rates of child food insecurity as well. Researchers suggest including questions designed to identify housing instability in health screenings so families most at risk among low-income renter households can be offered interventions to help them establish more stable household environments.