Housing is Absolutely a Health Issue!

More than half of Baltimore’s renters live in housing they cannot afford; 57% pay more than 30% of their income for housing and, staggeringly, 33% pay more than half.

In Baltimore, female-headed households with kids suffer under the largest housing burdens — 65 percent live in housing they cannot afford and 45 percent pay more than half their income to housing. These statistics are particularly troubling given that families with children generally must spend more on basic necessities and thus experience the effects of a housing-cost burden more severely.

And it’s getting worse.

Rising rents and stagnant incomes have forced more and more families to spend more of their budget on housing, increasing financial insecurity and the risk of eviction or foreclosure. Burdens of this magnitude force families to cut down on other necessary expenses, and can have negative effects on child outcomes and quality of life.

Families with children have significant basic necessity spending beyond housing:

  • $60/month average- diapers for 1st year of life
  • $135/month average- formula for 1st year of life

As these families are struggling to make ends meet while demanding safe housing- many renters end up in rent court. Most rent court defendants are Black Women, living on $2,000 or less per month, without public housing assistance.

Like many of our clients, in order to lower housing costs Baltimore’s families end up living in poorly maintained units.

The impact of poor quality housing on health is lengthy but includes:

  • Chronic health problems like asthma and hypertension.
  • Increased Emergency Department use
  • Accidents due to poor safety in the home
  • Acute health emergencies such as hypothermia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbation due to homes having insufficient heating or cooling abilities.


Read Crystal’s story about living in a rental unit in the winter WITHOUT a working furnace

Learn more about Baltimore Healthy Start, Inc. efforts on health and housing

Learn more about Baltimore Housing Roundtable’s work

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