Housing stability represents a fundamental component to healthy child development and community well-being. A growing body of research demonstrates the association between insecure housing and poorer emotional, behavioral, and academic outcomes among children and adolescents (Coley, Leventhal, Lynch, Doyle, & Kull, 2013; Leventhal & Newman, 2010; Fowler et al., 2014). Moreover, instability interferes with the delivery of evidence-based interventions known to promote wellness among low-income and at-risk families. Following recent housing and labor market crises, the number of children and families experiencing homelessness and precarious housing continues to increase nationally; for instance, more than one-in-six households double-up with family and friends to avoid homelessness (Henry, Cortes, Shivji, & Buck, 2014; Johnson, 2011).
Communities across the country struggle to coordinate housing resources that meet the demand from low-income families. Although a growing body of evidence illustrates the benefit of permanent housing interventions, most communities have limited access to these resources. The homeless service system provides emergency shelter for families and youth in crises; however, these programs are not intended to be long-term solutions. As a result, low-income and vulnerable families cycle through other social service systems trying to cobble together services that address inadequate housing.
To promote healthy development in strong communities, national policy and programs are needed that facilitate access to affordable housing. A need exists for translational research that identifies mechanisms to scale-up evidence-based housing approaches that stabilize families, prevent homelessness, and strengthen communities. Opportunities exist by using emerging evidence to inform policy through empirically informed implementation and dissemination frameworks. This symposium address these needs for research to promote well-being.