Housing insecurity, according to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines any situation in which a person cannot afford to live in his or her housing. HUD further describes this situation as “an acute shortage of adequate housing,” and goes on to define it as a situation where “a household can no longer afford the home payment.” However, what is often overlooked in this definition is what is meant by an “adequate” housing standard-and what are some of the ways in which families can reduce their housing insecurity. If a family can make the payment for a decent housing standard, then their housing situation isn’t experiencing housing insecurity. If a family cannot even make the payment for an adequate housing standard, then they are experiencing housing insecurity.
The reasons why families are experiencing housing insecurity vary greatly. One cause of insecurity in the housing market is due to public health risks-obesity, diabetes, smoking, cancer, and other health risks are all leading causes of rising housing insecurity. A second reason why families are experiencing housing insecurity is due to their low income. Even though many people consider income to be a broad category that encompasses a wide range of factors, low income often means living in a low-income neighborhood. If a family is experiencing housing insecurity because they have a low income, the first step is to change their income status so they are able to afford a moderate housing standard.
The other major cause of housing insecurity is due to the mental health of a family. It has been determined that at least half of the population is affected by mental health issues on a daily basis. Mental health includes a number of mental health risk behaviors such as substance abuse, bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, and psychosis. Although it is not possible to determine the exact number of people suffering from any given mental health risk behavior, it is believed that as many as 10% of the population may be affected by this type of behavior. Therefore, addressing housing issues that are caused by mental health risk behaviors can have a significant positive impact on the housing stability of a family.
Many people experience housing insecurity due to a lack of appropriate eviction procedures in place. Most eviction procedures require that a person be given a notice of default by a local or state courts. If a person’s notice of default is not received or ignored, local or state courts will then issue an eviction notice stating that the individual will be forced to leave the property by either being given a court order or being evicted. Many times, an eviction results in the renter having to leave quickly and without warning.
One important step for those experiencing housing insecurity is education. A recent study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that a significant minority of people with severe forms of mental health problems were suffering from a lack of access to proper education. Those living in a rural area, poverty-stricken areas, and communities that did not have adequate education facilities experienced significantly worse levels of housing insecurity than those in metropolitan communities with public elementary schools, four-year colleges, and other higher learning institutions. This study looked at four major factors related to the difficulty of providing adequate educational services to individuals who may be at risk for housing instability: low per capita income; high levels of poverty and food insecurity; high rates of unemployment; and a lack of access to quality community colleges.
Another factor that can lead to significant housing insecurity is health risk behaviors. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s “Income-Income Therapy” report, there are three primary social classifications that have been determined to be associated with an increased likelihood of serious health risks. These are: lower-income families; households that are non-white; and Hispanic/ Latino individuals. As social classifications are adjusted to take into account varying levels of income and health risk behaviors, there is an association between neighborhood social conditions and housing insecurity.
Finally, another key aspect of neighborhood social conditions and housing insecurity is represented by the presence of crossref external icon pubmed external icon. Crossref refers to a mathematical formula used to compare demographic information from a cross section of the neighborhood and identify similarities that reveal common characteristics shared by neighbors. The existence of a crossref external icon pubmed external icon indicates that neighbors share a commonality in a wide range of demographic characteristics. For example, a plot outlining a neighborhood’s poverty rate (a positive indicator of socioeconomic status), race, gender, age, and other sociological characteristics reveals the presence of a common set of neighborhood characteristics that has a negative effect on housing stability. Likewise, a plot detailing the relationship between neighborhood crime rates of gun sales shows that a common social condition (low socioeconomic status and gun ownership) is positively associated with crime rates while a variable indicating a high socioeconomic status and declining crime rates is correlated with higher rates of gun sales. As shown by the use of these four concepts, the study of neighborhood social conditions and housing insecurity can provide important insights into the complex influences that shape a neighborhood’s social structure.
All of these studies have important implications for researchers. Although these studies provide the most complete portrait of the effects of Hispanic ethnicity on housing insecurity, they also require more detail on the local governmental policies that target a vulnerable minority. Without these policies, it will be difficult for the general public to understand and anticipate the impact of policies designed to increase an already positive association between Hispanic ethnicity and housing insecurity. This calls for a greater awareness and understanding of the policies that will affect Hispanic ethnicity as they enter the home-based segment of the American society.