Housing and health: Exploring the complex intersections between housing environments and health behaviors among women living in poverty

Danielle F. Haley, Kimberly A. Parker, Emily F. Dauria, Christin Root, Lorenna Rodriguez, Erin Ruel, Deirdre Oakley, Jing Wang, Larissa Jennings Mayo-Wilson, Lydia Soto-Torres, Hannah L.F. Cooper

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Location, quality, and reliability of housing are associated with physical and mental health. Financial resources (or lack thereof) and availability of affordable housing may restrict housing choice and mobility. Women, and unmarried women with children in particular, experience greater poverty rates than other groups, and, as a result, are particularly vulnerable to the ill effects of precarious housing conditions. This chapter explores interview and focus group themes as they relate to women’s experiences of their housing environment. The aims of this chapter are to (1) describe the physical attributes of housing where women reside, and the social and built characteristics of the neighborhoods where this housing is situated, and (2) explore how poverty affects housing choice and mobility. Participants felt trapped by marginal living situations resulting from limited housing choice, financial constraints, and transportation needs. Participants believed that their environments affected their physical and emotional well-being and described trade-offs that had immediate and long-term health implications (e.g., exchanging sex for housing, staying in dilapidated housing to keep benefits), and perceived low control over these situations. Women living in poverty require assistance identifying and relocating to safe, affordable housing with adequate transportation access. Programming should be coupled with interventions to increase women’s financial assets and mental health and with reevaluations of policies contributing to poverty and unstable housing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPoverty in the United States
Subtitle of host publicationWomen's Voices
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9783319438337
ISBN (Print)9783319438313
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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