Relations Between Housing Characteristics and the Well-Being of Low-Income Children and Adolescents

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Abstract

Extant research has highlighted the importance of multiple characteristics of housing but has not comprehensively assessed a broad range of housing characteristics and their relative contributions to children’s well-being. Using a representative, longitudinal sample of low-income children and adolescents from low-income urban neighborhoods (N = 2,437, ages 2–21 years) from the Three-City Study, this study assessed housing quality, stability, type (i.e., ownership status and subsidy status), and cost simultaneously to delineate their unique associations with children’s development. Hierarchical linear models found that poor housing quality was most consistently associated with children’s and adolescents’ development, including worse emotional and behavioral functioning and lower cognitive skills. These associations operated in part through mothers’ psychological functioning. Residential instability showed mixed links with functioning, whereas housing cost and type were not consistently predictive. Results suggest that housing contexts are associated with functioning across the developmental span from early childhood through late adolescence, with some differences in patterns by child age.

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