Does the Value of Housing Assistance Impact Health Outcomes?

Low-income housing assistance programs represent a potentially powerful policy lever to promote population health and reduce health disparities. Yet, research on the impact of federal low-income housing programs on health outcomes remains highly limited, and no study to date has adequately explored whether the monetary value of housing assistance has an impact on health outcomes. Assisted households typically pay 30% of their income towards rent, and so the monetary value of housing assistance varies across households because of differences in household income, regional differences in typical rents, and the actual rental rate for assisted households. This may translate into meaningful differences in health outcomes.

This study seeks to answer the following questions:

  1. Does the value of housing assistance impact health outcomes?
  2. Does this impact vary across federal housing assistance programs?

The study will capitalize on a newly available dataset that links responses from the nationally-representative National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) for the period from 1999 to 2012 with HUD administrative records from 1999 to 2014.

Housing assistance is a scarce benefit, and findings from this study may help make a clear case for expanding such assistance and inform how existing (limited) resources can be used in the most efficient and effective manner to promote population health.