Affordable Housing, Community Development, Reports and Publications

Study: Better Neighborhoods Mean Better Health

HUD
 

People who move from a poor neighborhood to a better-off neighborhood are less likely to be obese and have diabetes, according to a new study from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

"This study proves that concentrated poverty is not only bad policy, it’s bad for your health," said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. "Far too often, we can predict a family’s overall health, even their life expectancy, by knowing their zip code. But it’s not enough to simply move families into different neighborhoods.  We must continue to look for innovative and strategic ways to connect families to the necessary supports they need to break the cycle of poverty that can quite literally make them sick."

The findings show that giving very poor families the opportunity to move to neighborhoods with lower poverty can have a positive impact on the physical health of adult women.

  • The women who were not offered vouchers through this study had a prevalence rate of 18 percent for extreme obesity, much larger than the national average for women of approximately 7 percent.  Women who were given the opportunity to move with housing vouchers to low-poverty neighborhoods showed a significantly reduced rate of extreme obesity – 3.4 percentage points lower – than the women who did not receive vouchers.   This means women with the opportunity to move were nearly one fifth less likely to be extremely obese than were women who were not offered a housing voucher through MTO.
  • The prevalence rate for diabetes for the group of women who were not offered vouchers through the study was 20 percent, compared to the national average for women of 12 percent.  For the group of women with the opportunity to move to low-poverty neighborhoods, the prevalence rate was 5.2 percentage points lower (as measured by glycated hemoglobin) than the women who did not receive housing vouchers.  This means women with the opportunity to move were one fifth less likely to have diabetes than women who were not offered a housing voucher through the MTO study.

HUD’s study also found even larger health effects for those women who moved with a housing voucher to lower poverty neighborhoods.

To Learn More:
Read HUD’s Press Release
Read the Study

 
 

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