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Fact Sheet

The Public Health Implications of Housing Instability, Eviction, and Homelessness

April 21, 2021


Housing instability is a public health crisis that causes and exacerbates health problems, erodes communities, and drives health inequities. Families grappling with housing uncertainty experience physical and mental health challenges, from elevated rates of childhood and chronic disease and mortality, to stress, depression, anxiety, and suicide. Those who lack stable housing are more likely to experience homelessness, unemployment, substance use, food insecurity, and violence. Housing instability makes it difficult for residents to invest in their homes, relationships, and neighborhoods; and where health-supportive connections have already been made, eviction can disrupt the fabric of entire communities. Nationwide, Black and Hispanic renters in general, and women in particular, are disproportionately threatened with eviction and disproportionately evicted from their homes.

This fact sheet discusses housing as a community health and health equity problem and illustrates why legal and policy innovations are needed to address the issue of housing instability. It is the first in a series of fact sheets exploring state- and local-level legal and policy approaches to reduce tenant displacement and eviction and provide supports to prevent housing instability and homelessness. These policy interventions are also presented in a Law & Policy Pathways graphic document and were presented by the authors on a Network webinar in March 2021 entitled Housing Matters: Legal and Policy Approaches to Preventing Housing Instability.