The Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity is running a series of commentaries in November and December exploring the relationship between housing and health, economic opportunity, and education. The second installment in the series, “The Housing Vaccine: Why Housing Matters to Young Children,” considers the impact housing can have on a child, from birth through the early years of development. Pediatricians Megan Sandel and Deborah A. Frank of Children’s HealthWatch write that a safe home is as important to children as vaccines–both keep them healthy. They address the concept of “housing insecurity,” defined as doubling up with other families for economic reasons, overcrowding, or moving two or more times in a year, which puts children at risk for poor health and developmental delays.
In Boston Public Schools, moving between schools, or “mobility,” impacts 25% of students, putting them at risk for low academic performance, behavior problems, and absenteeism. This is more than twice the state average of 10%. Housing subsidies, write Drs. Sandel and Frank, will protect families from both housing insecurity and food insecurity:
“Similar to receiving one shot against multiple diseases, young children who live in subsidized housing are much more likely to be ‘well’—developmentally normal, not underweight or overweight, in good or excellent health, and with no history of hospitalizations.”
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