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Housing Insufficiency: A Social Determinant of Health Outcomes

by gbaf mag

Housing insecurity or insecure housing is the state of being ware in a housing facility that is the consequence of high housing prices relative to current income, unstable housing conditions, overcrowding, or any combination of these factors. While not all renters are at risk for housing insecurity, as many would think, nearly half of renters are at risk for housing instability, according to the latest statistics. Some of the reasons why people are affected by housing insecurity are related to personal and/or professional choices, circumstances beyond their control, and/or because they are displaced from their homes or neighborhoods.

Why is housing insecurity such a problem? One likely reason why the situation of housing insecurity exists is because of child neglect and/or abusive parenting practices. Child neglect comes in so many different forms and manifests itself in so many different ways; it is hard to know if one child is mistreated or not. If the child neglect is not discovered and reported, then it will often go unnoticed and untreated, therefore perpetuating the cycle of child neglect and abuse.

Another reason why people become victims of housing insecurity and its related problems is when a person who is displaced from their home or a family member of a displaced person becomes the victim of a disease outbreak, such as HIV/AIDS or a hepatitis epidemic. People who are living in poverty due to disease outbreaks can become prey to diseases such as Hepatitis A, HIV, and Hepatitis B, all of which have higher instances of death than any other type of infectious disease. Because the victims of these diseases are typically living in poverty and are not able to afford health care, the disease can take a toll on them that they are unable to handle.

Why do you need to become concerned with issues of housing insecurity? One major issue with housing insecurity is that it can lead to higher levels of preterm births. Studies have shown that higher rates of pregnancy-related deaths have been found in regions of the country that experience higher levels of housing instability.

When families live in unstable environments, they are at increased risk of suffering from health problems. These health problems may include high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, and various forms of cancer. Studies have also shown that if a child’s parents suffer from housing insecurity, that child has a 10 times greater chance of experiencing serious health issues as an adult. This is why issues of housing stability and housing insecurity should be taken very seriously.

What types of things might you expect to see on a survey about issues of housing insecurity? A majority of people that are living in housing instability have a fear of being displaced due to a natural disaster or incident. The majority of people who are asked the question “past 12 months would you be worried if you were not living in a house” also have a similar fear of losing their homes. This question is also asked to people who are in insecure housing and experiencing financial strain due to the crisis. The survey results also show an increase in the number of people who are reporting that they are having to prioritize their basic needs over all of their other wants and necessities.

Other questions on a housing affordability survey may address the prevalence of substance abuse, which can often play a role in both poor housing conditions and elevated rates of preterm births. The abuse of drugs and/or alcohol has been shown to have a negative impact on overall mental health and to contribute to increased rates of problematic behaviors. Financial stress is also a contributor to poor housing conditions and to the development of toxic stress, which can have a detrimental effect on the development of the child. Finally, the question “how does your neighborhood affect your housing stability?”

Public health experts have identified several social determinants of health outcomes. However, no single explanation to account for all of the variation in health outcomes among neighborhoods. It is important, nevertheless, that the health of the neighborhood and the housing insecurity of the residents be considered when assessing trends in public health across the country. A stable housing insecurity may contribute to better health outcomes for families experiencing the problems of increased levels of stress and toxic stress.

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