New study shows families with children at higher risk for eviction

Originally posted on Verywell Family.

A new study released by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) shows families with children facing or experiencing eviction have poorer health than those who do not.

Following the COVID-19 pandemic in which the labor force was disrupted, leaving working families struggling to retain jobs and make ends meet, today’s economic climate now includes high inflation, translating into skyrocketing living expenses. This trend correlates to working families falling behind on rent and being forced to make critical choices between paying for rent or paying for food. Factor in the liabilities that children can cause in a lease such as making noise or breaking or damaging property and the corresponding legal constrictions that landlords place on leases, and eviction is more likely to happen to a family with children than one without.

All of this points to a concerning relationship between eviction and poor health in the children (and parents, too) of affected families, in relation with not just hunger but other correlates. The study specifically draws the link between family evictions and poor health and hunger in children and families, especially those with children under 4 years old.

Dr. Diana Cutts, MD, the chair of pediatrics at Hennepin Healthcare, spearheaded the study into families facing eviction focusing on those with children under the age of four. She explains that for both caregivers and children, eviction is not just displacement, but a major stressor and health event.

Eviction can lead to various health consequences for families, all related to being without stable housing, including overcrowded housing, homelessness, less social support, disruption of established routines, and more. “Following eviction, families may live in neighborhoods with few healthcare facilities, and experience hazardous environmental exposures,” says Dr. Cutts. All of these factors are associated with negative health outcomes.

“Our data are from before the pandemic and the recent surge in hardship, so we know that child and family health are being further impacted by these more recent economic changes. We’ve heard from families how hard it has been to cope with the increasing cost of living at a time of tremendous employment destabilization. I see relentless fatigue, worry, and stress on parents’ faces as they bring their children to the clinic for care,” Dr. Cutts adds.