Paying more than 30% of family income on housing is considered a burden. The current housing problem affecting the majority of households with children is rent burden. Rent burden increases material hardship and family stress. But just how those problems affect children is still unclear. This brief pulls together the current housing affordability/child well-being research and presents recommendations for policy changes that could help families and communities thrive.
Nearly 80% of low-income families with children spend more than 30% of their income on rent.
Findings & Stats
Housing assistance programs have long waiting lists and are serving less than half of very low-income families with children.
14 million children are affected by rent burden.
Children of immigrant parents are disproportionately affected by rent burden compared to children of native-born parents.
Kids of Color
Black and Hispanic children experience the highest rates of rent burden.
Delinquency and Housing
Unaffordable housing was associated with an increase in rates of behavior problems among teenagers.
Health and Housing
Unaffordable housing was associated with lower health ratings for all the children.
Most parents with children affected by rent burden are native-born, have some college or more education, or work at least part time.
Statements & Quotations
Three schools of thought help to explain the effect of housing assistance on young children. First is the residential stability thesis, which argues that a low eviction rate and lower, more stable rents make it easier for families with housing assistance to meet a required monthly payment.
Another thesis views housing assistance as a form of income enhancement, which research shows is associated with better child outcomes.
The third approach to understanding the effect of housing assistance on children’s outcomes is the poverty trap thesis, which argues that given the impoverished settings of public housing and Section 8 housing, living in these poor neighborhoods can negatively affect the well-being of families and children.
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