Health status and the housing system

| Smith SJ


Most research on housing and health seeks causal links between dwelling conditions and the incidence of physical and mental disease. Less attention has been paid to the more sociological question of how health status affects housing opportunities. This paper shows how, and considers why, medical factors influence access to housing, whether in the public sector (where accommodation is traditionally allocated according to ‘need’) or in the housing market (where dwelling availability depends on ability to pay). In Britain, whose experience is taken as an example, a shrinking council housing stock can no longer accommodate general medical needs. Consequently, notwithstanding the importance of ‘special’ housing initiatives, many sick people are forced to seek accommodation in the private sector. Whether they succeed or fail (and so become homeless), this raises questions concerning the health selective role of the housing system which analysts have scarcely begun to address.

Journal: Soc Sci Med|Publication Date: 1990|Issue: 31:753­ 62