Affordable Housing, Community Development, Homelessness, Reports and Publications

Unintentional, Unpredictable, and Undesirable Results of Household Instability

Urban Institute

A new brief from the Urban Institute explored the current state of research on household instability (those unintentional, unpredictable, and undesirable changes in housing, income, family composition, etc.),finding, for instance, that 10% of low income children lived in their current place of residence for less than 6 months (compared to 6.5% when observing all children).

Stress and lack of resources that result from instability can impair childhood development, increase absenteeism, reduce upward mobility, etc. The severity of these consequences varies by a variety of factors that can buffer or intensify the results of instability. For example, living in a neighborhood with access to resources can help remedy problems that arise, while living in concentrated poverty can exacerbate these issues.

The findings were the result of interviews with 60 experts in the field, which were supplemented by reviews of the literature. The authors also highlighted areas research has yet to address, such as: which children are more likely to experience instability in multiple arenas?

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