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December 19, 2017

Investing in Housing for Health Improves Both Mission and Margin

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Boston Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2Department of Sociology, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey
JAMA. 2017;318(23):2291-2292. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.15771

During the last 20 years, low-income families have had their incomes plateau or decline as their housing costs soared. Public aid has not been expanded to meet the growing need: only 1 in 4 households that qualify for housing assistance receives it. As a result, today most renting households below the federal poverty line spend more than half of their income on housing costs, and 1 in 4 spends more than 70% of its income on rent and utility costs alone.1 Rent-burdened families not only have less money to spend on wellness and health care but also regularly face eviction and homelessness, which further threaten their health. According to recent estimates, 2.8 million renting households are at risk of eviction and more than 500 000 people are homeless on any single night.2

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