Understanding the Impact of Housing Assistance Programs on Child Well-Being
Housing assistance policies may lead to improved mental health for children and adolescents by improving housing quality, stability, and affordability. We use a unique data linkage of the National Health Interview Survey to administrative housing assistance records from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to examine the impact of housing assistance on parent-reported mental health outcomes for children ages 2-17 (N=1,967). We account for selection into housing assistance using a pseudo-waitlist method that compares children receiving assistance to those who will enter housing assistance within 2 years of their interview. Compared to those in the pseudo-waitlist group, we find that children living in public housing have better mental health outcomes. We do not find similar benefits for children receiving vouchers, despite the fact that vouchers result in reduced exposure to neighborhood disadvantage. Our results suggest that housing assistance policies can have a positive impact on mental health among disadvantaged children.