Research Portal

November 30, 2023

Interdisciplinary team awarded an early-stage pilot grant from Population Health Initiative

Population Health Initiative gave 12 early-stage pilot grants to interdisciplinary teams. One team included Rebecca Walter, an associate professor in the Runstad Department of Real Estate.

Project title: “Housing affordability and chronic stress in the US: Does affordability modify the effect of neighborhoods on health?”

Project team:

Amy J. Youngbloom, Department of Epidemiology

Stephen J. Mooney, Department of Epidemiology

Anjum Hajat, Department of Epidemiology

Isaac Rhew, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences

Rebecca Walter, Runstad Department of Real Estate

Project Abstract:

In 2019, an estimated 7.8 million very low-income households (i.e., households earning less than 50% of the area median income) in the United States paid 50% or more of their income towards housing. Despite the growing breadth of the housing affordability crisis, few US-based researchers have examined the potential effects of housing cost burden on health and whether existing housing assistance programs can reduce the negative health effects of housing cost burden. Furthermore, while public health and urban planning researchers have produced ample evidence supporting the role of built environment factors in promoting health, no US-based research has yet sought to disentangle the role of housing affordability in understanding how built environment factors contribute to population health research.

The research team for this project includes faculty from the UW’s College of Built Environment’s Real Estate Department, Epidemiology, and Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences. This cross-disciplinary team will leverage a recently linked dataset, that combines nationally representative health data, including detailed biomarker data (NHANES) and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s housing assistance database. This study uses quasiexperimental methods to explore the association between housing affordability and chronic stress, and the role that national housing assistance programs may play in reducing chronic stress. Additionally, we will test whether housing cost burden and housing assistance are modifiers of the association between built environment measures and chronic stress. This research will provide preliminary data to support future research efforts to further examine this relationship.

Learn more about the 12 pilot grants awarded here.