Sunflower with house in the background.

Why is affordable housing important?

Habitat for Humanity knows that a safe, decent, affordable home is fundamental to a family forging a path to a better future. Yet, we are in the midst of an urgently growing housing crisis, with millions of families and individuals in the U.S. and across the world unable to afford safe, decent housing.

In unsafe, unhealthy and unaffordable homes, parents experience more psychological stress; adolescents show lower school success in core academic subjects; and children who moved around frequently experience poorer emotional and behavioral health.

In a Habitat house, families find improved academic outcomes, better health, more financial freedom, independence, and a stability and security that far too many families simply can’t achieve without a helping hand.

Stable, affordable housing impacts children’s education through improved attendance, better cognitive and behavioral health, and improved academic achievement. For instance, stable home environments have been shown to raise young children’s math and reading test scores.

“Thus, our research shows in scientific terms why the work of Habitat for Humanity is so essential,” say researchers from Boston College and Tufts University. “By building and restoring safe, clean and healthy housing for low-income families, Habitat works to eliminate children’s experiences of substandard housing, thereby supporting their growth and development.

Removing health hazards like asthma triggers and fall risks from the home make for healthier families and lower health care costs. Decreasing housing costs for cost-burdened households releases resources to spend on nutritious food and health care and limits overcrowding to minimize the spread of respiratory infectious diseases.

Homeownership also promotes wealth building for low-income households and households of color, helping families secure their future as they build home equity. In fact, U.S. homeowners have an average net wealth that is 400% higher than that of renters with similar demographics and earnings, and home equity represents the largest proportion of wealth (34.5%) for U.S. households.

Dig into our research below that explores the outcomes of affordable housing and reveals just how life-changing and critical Habitat’s work is.

Research series: Outcomes associated with homeownership

Improving affordable homeownership leads to numerous outcomes that extend beyond the house to areas ranging from community engagement to education​​​​​. This evidence brief provides an overview of how families can prosper with greater access to decent, affordable housing.

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Research series: How does housing impact health?

The CDC identified housing as an important social determinant of health, highlighting the link between where people live and their health. This evidence brief summarizes research on key factors to improving health through housing in populations with low incomes and illustrates how the work of Habitat for Humanity contributes to positive health outcomes.

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