Housing Choice Vouchers Reduce Hypertension in Mothers and Lower Parental Stress

A study recently published in Health Affairs, “Experimental Evidence Shows That Housing Vouchers Provided Measurable Benefits, Including Parent Stress Reduction,” found that Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) recipients who secured housing with their voucher experienced significant improvements to housing affordability and significant reductions in family stress. Voucher use also improved users’ perceptions of adequate space in their home, adequacy of heat in the winter, and daytime neighborhood safety.

The researchers analyzed data from a randomized controlled trial of families who applied for housing vouchers through a lottery system in Cleveland, Ohio, and Dallas, Texas. The study collected data through surveys with both voucher recipients and those who did not receive vouchers during two time periods: 2017 to 2018 (when families first applied) and 2020 to 2021 (when 49% of voucher recipients had used their vouchers to secure housing). Comparing voucher users and applicants who were not offered a voucher, the researchers tested for associations between voucher use and improved affordability, housing conditions, neighborhood conditions, and family stress.

The authors found that voucher use significantly improved housing affordability, as well as some housing and neighborhood conditions. Voucher use reduced housing cost burdens by 40%, with voucher users paying on average 22% of their income for rent compared to families who were not offered a voucher paying 37%. Voucher use also reduced the likelihood of missing a rent payment by 79%. The researchers found that voucher use reduced the likelihood that families resided in homes with insufficient space by 42% and that the occurrence of inadequate heating in the home virtually disappeared, being experienced by 9% of families not offered a voucher but only 1% of voucher users. Comparing neighborhood conditions, the researchers found that voucher use had an effect on reducing feelings of lack of safety in the neighborhood in the daytime, with 10% of families not offered a voucher but only 2% of voucher users feeling unsafe.

The authors also found that voucher use was associated with reductions in two family stress indicators: mother’s self-reported occurrence of hypertension (high blood pressure) within the last year and parental stress as indicated by statements related to parenting challenges. Voucher use reduced the occurrence of hypertension by 50%, with 12% of voucher users experiencing hypertension compared to 24% of families in the control group. Meanwhile, parental stress declined by 7% for voucher users. 

Among affordability, housing conditions, and neighborhood conditions, affordability had the strongest association with reductions in family stress, with lower cost burdens significantly reducing the likelihood of both hypertension among mothers and parental stress. The researchers conclude that these findings suggest that HCVs benefit families with children beyond providing affordable housing.

Read the article at: https://bit.ly/3wLsx5x