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For Immediate Release

New report shows no safe level of child homelessness

WASHINGTON – The younger and longer a child experiences homelessness, the greater the cumulative toll of negative health outcomes, which can have lifelong effects on the child, the family and the community. This is the key finding from a research brief out today from Children’s HealthWatch and the Center for Housing Policy at the National Housing Conference, “Compounding Stress: The Timing and Duration Effects of Homelessness on Children’s Health.”

“Compounding Stress” summarizes findings from data collected from more than 20,000 caregivers of low-income children with public or no health insurance in five U.S. cities from 2009 to 2014. The research shows that while prenatal and postnatal child homelessness were each separately associated with poor health outcomes for children, the combination of prenatal and postnatal homelessness resulted in a “dose-response” effect that worsened the health risks linked to both prenatal and postnatal homelessness.

“While it is not surprising that homelessness is bad for children at any point in their development, the combined impact both before and after birth is striking,” said study author Megan Sandel, MD, MPH, of Children’s HealthWatch. “The impacts of homelessness compound for these children and leave them much worse off both physically and developmentally than if they had experienced just one period of homelessness.”

This new research suggests that interventions focused on preventing child and family homelessness can be especially effective before birth. According to Chris Estes, President and CEO of the National Housing Conference, “Rapid re-housing and wraparound case management are two tools that work to prevent and end family homelessness. These kinds of federal, state and local programs are a proven way of helping kids at a much lower cost to society than homelessness itself. The challenge in most communities is an inadequate supply of quality housing that is affordable for these families.”

View the report online.

Sandel will present findings from the report Friday, June 12, at the National Housing Conference Annual Policy Symposium.

NHC 2015 Annual Policy Symposium
How Housing Can Help Individuals and Families Succeed
June 12, 2015
9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
(Registration and breakfast: 8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.)
Washington Marriott Metro Center
Washington, D.C.

Research presentation, 9:45 a.m. – 10:05 a.m.: Megan Sandel, MD, MPH, principal investigator, Children’s HealthWatch and pediatrician, Boston Medical Center

Watch via webcast: (registration required; link leads to live video during event and recorded video once available)

About the National Housing Conference
The National Housing Conference represents a diverse membership of housing stakeholders including tenant advocates, mortgage bankers, nonprofit and for-profit home builders, property managers, policy practitioners, Realtors®, equity investors, and more, all of whom share a commitment to safe, decent and affordable housing for all in America. We are the nation’s oldest housing advocacy organization, dedicated to the affordable housing mission since our founding in 1931. We are a nonpartisan, 501(c)3 nonprofit that brings together our broad-based membership to advocate on housing issues. Learn more at


Radiah Shabazz
202.466.2121 (ext. 240)

Jenny Eriksen Leary

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