Child Housing, Health and Well-Being: An Exploration of Interconnected Needs

Publication Summary:

Housing instability and homelessness are key barriers to healthy childhoods in which children and families flourish. The issue is much more complex that just ensuring individuals have a roof to sleep under. Family heath, economic well-being, geography, transportation, and cultural expectations all play a role in the housing decisions families make, and the impacts housing has on health and well-being. The physical environments and communities in which children live play a significant role in their overall well-being and development. Young children who experience housing disruptions may form fewer secure attachments, which are linked to language and social-emotional development. Even for children whose housing is secure, low-quality housing presents safety concerns for children such as lead exposure and asthma-inducing causes.

Nationally, the scale of this problem has a large impact on young children. Approximately 1.27 million children younger than age 6 are homeless in any given year, with a large proportion of these children under age 1. Infancy is the period of life when a person is most likely to live in a homeless shelter.[i]

[i] Cutts, Bovell-Ammon, Ettinger de Cuba, Sheward, Shaefer, Huang, Black, Casey, Coleman, Sandel, and Frank (2018): Homelessness During Infancy: Associations With Infant and Maternal Health and Hardship Outcomes. Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research, 20(2), 119-132.

Author(s): Caitlin Hay, ICS Health Policy Post-Baccalaureate Fellow John Young Shik Concklin, M.M. Megan Carolan, M.P.P.
Publication Date: October 2020
Publication Type: Policy Brief
Publication Topic: Health & Health Care
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