New Evidence Shows Evictions Have Lasting Negative Health Outcomes

An article in Housing Policy Debate, Losing Your Home Is Bad for Your Health: Short- and Medium-Term Health Effects of Eviction on Young Adults,” compares health outcomes for young adults who have and have not experienced an eviction. The research adds to a growing body of evidence documenting the detrimental effects of evictions. The researchers find that individuals who experience an eviction are more likely to report poorer general health or mental health outcomes compared to those who were not evicted. These impacts were measurable in both the short-term (a year after the eviction) and medium-term (seven to eight years following the eviction).

The researchers used data from the Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) survey, which collected data four times over the course of 14 years from individuals who were adolescents in grades 7 through 12 in 1994-1995. The fourth survey was conducted in 2008. The survey asked respondents about their health status and whether they experienced an eviction in the past 12 months. The researchers assessed the effect of eviction during the third and fourth survey period on three self-reported health outcomes: general health, the presence of depression and anxiety, and a combined general and mental health score. The analysis controlled for variables related to health, including sex, race, education, and income, to isolate the effect of eviction on health outcomes. The final sample contained data from 11,514 individuals.

Of the weighted sample, 1.8% of individuals reported experiencing an eviction during the third or fourth survey period, while participants were between the ages of 18 and 34. The researchers found that respondents who experienced an eviction were significantly more likely to report combined poorer general health and mental health than those who did not experience an eviction. The magnitude of negative health effects of an eviction was larger in the short-term, approximately 12 months after the eviction. However, significant effects persisted seven to eight years following an eviction.

The researchers found females experienced a higher probability of poor health across all three health measures regardless of eviction. In the short-term, evicted females were more likely than evicted males to report poor mental health, but less likely to report poor general health, as a result of eviction. In the medium-term, seven to eight years after eviction, evicted females were more likely than evicted males to report negative health effects. Evicted white individuals were more likely to report poor health in the short-term than their non-White counterparts. Conversely, in the medium-term, non-white individuals were more likely to experience poor combined and general health outcomes and white individuals were somewhat more likely to experience poor mental health outcomes.

These findings add to the growing body of evidence linking evictions to negative economic, social, and health outcomes. Further, the results indicate that women and non-white individuals are more likely to experience persistent negative health outcomes following an eviction, potentially exacerbating inequality across groups already at disproportionate risk for eviction, including women, Black families, low-income families, and families with children. The authors call for increased collaboration among housing and public health professionals to promote housing stability as a public health intervention.

The report can be found at: