Friday, November 9, 2012: 1:00 PM-2:30 PM
Mencken (Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Organizers: Sandra Newman, Johns Hopkins University
Moderators: Pamela Morris, New York University and Larry Buron, Abt Associates
Chairs: Paul Graziano, Housing Authority of Baltimore City and Baltimore Department of Housing and Community Development, Housing Commissioner
Although housing is an important part of the physical and social world of children, and especially young children whose orbit of activity is their home, there is surprisingly little rigorous research evidence on the effects of housing on children’s healthy development. The struggle to find a decent, affordable place to live is one of the major challenges facing lower-income families, resulting in half of all families in the lowest income quartile spend more than 50 percent of income on housing. Yet because their incomes are low, even such high housing cost burdens do not provide access to adequate housing and safe neighborhoods. As a result, a disproportionate share of low-income children live in crowded, physically inadequate and potentially unsafe units, often located in dangerous neighborhoods. Allocating a large fraction of the household budget to housing also leaves families with scant resources to cover basic necessities and enrichment for children, with housing instability as a constant threat. The constrained housing choices confronting low-income families may compound the developmental challenges already facing their children because of their poor economic status. Thus, improving the housing conditions of low-income families could be a productive policy approach for promoting child well-being.
This panel showcases three papers emerging from new research on the effects of housing on child development. Authors represent an interdisciplinary mix and include child development psychologists, economists, a policy analyst and a sociologist. Each paper makes a unique contribution to understanding the role of housing in the lives of families with children. Coley et al. are the first to rigorously examine the housing constraints and opportunities of low-income families in the Three-City Study; Blau and Haurin analyze NLSY79 data that they have enriched with detailed administrative housing records; and Newman and Holupka examine the effects of housing affordability on children’s well-being.