Housing and Health: A 30-Year Retrospective Analysis

Project Funder: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

Project Partners: University of Illinois at Chicago School of Urban Planning (now College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs) and the Center for Neighborhood Technology

Project Contact: David E. Jacobs, djacobs@nchh.org, 443.539.4157

Project Description

The overall goal of this study is to identify housing trends from approximately 1970-2000 that are related to changes in population health, especially children and other at-risk subpopulations, by synthesizing data from the American Housing Survey (AHS) and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Changes in housing include construction type, proportion of rental versus home ownership, age, density, size, moisture, pests, broken windows, ventilation and air conditioning, and water leaks. Changes in health measures include asthma, respiratory illness, obesity and diabetes, and lead poisoning, among others. The results suggest ecologic trends in childhood lead poisoning follow housing age, water leaks, and ventilation; asthma follows ventilation, windows, and age; overweight trends follow ventilation; blood pressure trends follow community measures; and health disparities have not changed greatly. Housing trends are consistent with certain health trends over time. Future national longitudinal surveys should include health, housing, and community metrics within a single integrated design, instead of separate surveys, to develop reliable indicators of how housing changes affect population health and how best to target resources.


Jacobs, D. E., Wilson, J., Dixon, Sherry L., Smith, J., & Evens, A. (2009, April). The relationship of housing and population health: A 30-Year retrospective analysis. Environmental Health Perspectives, 117(4), 597-604.

A relação entre habitação e saúde da população: Uma análise retrospectiva de 30 anos. “The relationship of housing and population health: A 30-Year retrospective analysis” was translated into Portuguese by Artur Weber and Adelina Domingos. Note that this article was not translated by NCHH; therefore, we cannot be responsible for any errors or omissions in the translation. [url; Homeyou, 2017]

Descriptive Statistic Continuous Variables by Age and Subset (Weighted) [pdf]

Qualitative Investigation of Related Trends in Health and Housing and Potential Explanations [pdf]


Latest page update: April 4, 2024.