COVID-19 has exploited the inequities within the US housing system. Examining the association between housing and health during the pandemic is imperative to reducing health inequities and improving population health.
We analysed 957 714 responses from the Household Pulse Survey Study, collected between April and July 2020. Using survey-weighted multivariable regression analyses, we assessed the relationships between housing tenure and health, both on average and over time, as well as how these relationships were moderated by COVID-19-related hardships including job loss, food insecurity and inability to afford housing-related costs. We controlled for a variety of potential socioeconomic and demographic confounding factors.
We found that housing tenure was significantly associated with both self-rated health and mental distress. Compared with homeowners without mortgage debt, homeowners with mortgage debt reported worse self-rated health (β=–0.13; 95% CI –0.15 to –0.12, p<0.001) and greater mental distress (β=0.50; 95% CI 0.44 to 0.55, p<0.001). Renters also reported worse self-rated health (β=–0.18; 95% CI –0.20 to –0.16, p<0.001) and greater mental distress (β=0.76; 95% CI 0.69 to 0.83, p<0.001) than homeowners without mortgage debt. Across all tenure groups, self-rated health decreased (β=–0.007; 95% CI –0.011 to –0.004, p<0.001) and mental distress increased (β=0.05; 95% CI 0.05 to 0.06, p<0.001) over this period. Additionally, time and COVID-19-related hardships compounded differences in health status between homeowners and renters.
These results add to a limited body of evidence suggesting that, during this period, housing instability and COVID-19-related hardships have contributed to an increase in health inequities in the USA.