A new report by Natalie Slopen and colleagues looks at the relationship between publicly-supported housing assistance programs and child health outcomes in the United States.

Lydia Furman, MD, Assistant Editor of Pediatrics, comments on the relationship in this article:

There is impressively large federal spending of about $37 billion dollars across the three programs included (Public Housing, Multi-family Housing and the Housing Choice Voucher Program). A summary of public housing assistance programs that I found helpful is available from the National Coalition for the Homeless. Although the purpose of federal housing assistance programs is not to directly impact child health, the wellbeing of children who are housed certainly seems like a reasonable proxy for program success, especially since 26-48% of households across these programs include children.

The HUD (Housing and Urban Development) website informs us that, for example, “Public housing was established to provide decent and safe rental housing for eligible low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities.” Although local housing agencies administer Public Housing, the rental cost to the tenant is calculated by formula and cannot exceed 30% of expected income, welfare rent or a local minimum which may be $25/month. Ideally this should free up financial resources for families for other needs such as healthy foods. It makes sense that a variety of health outcomes could be measured among children living in public housing, versus in non-assisted housing, and these studies might provide evidence to support continued or expanded federal monies.

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