Rehousing as a health intervention: miracle or mirage?
The relationship between housing and health is complex, and despite a recent revival of interest, many facets remain unexplained. Most research focuses either on the impact of housing environments on occupants’ health or (less often) on the consequences of health status for housing attainment. One link between these perspectives is the residential mobility (or otherwise) of people with health problems. Residential change is usually thought of as stressful, and, if anything, harmful to health. However, welfare state societies have traditionally used rehousing as a way to improve the accommodation options for people with health and mobility needs. This paper draws on a survey of over 800 British households to explore the effectiveness of rehousing as a health intervention. It shows that the housing system can be health selective in favour of sick people. However, success in breaking the link between housing deprivation and health inequalities depends on retaining a social role for housing policy.