Housing Assistance Programs and Adult Health in the United States

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Abstract

Objectives

To examine whether access to housing assistance is associated with better health among low-income adults.

Methods

We used National Health Interview Survey data (1999-2012) linked to US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) administrative records (1999-2014) to examine differences in reported fair or poor health and psychological distress. We used multivariable models to compare those currently receiving HUD housing assistance (public housing, housing choice vouchers, and multifamily housing) with those who will receive housing assistance within 2 years (the average duration of HUD waitlists) to account for selection into HUD assistance.

Results

We found reduced odds of fair or poor health for current public housing (odds ratio [OR] = 0.77; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.57, 0.97) and multifamily housing (OR = 0.75; 95% CI = 0.60, 0.95) residents compared with future residents. Public housing residents also had reduced odds of psychological distress (OR = 0.59; 95% CI = 0.40, 0.86). These differences were not mediated by neighborhood-level characteristics, and we did not find any health benefits for current housing choice voucher recipients.

Conclusions

Housing assistance is associated with improved health and psychological well-being for individuals entering public housing and multifamily housing programs.

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