In a study published earlier this year from the University of Pennsylvania, researchers were able to provide evidence linking a history of evictions to depressive symptoms in adolescents and young adults. The study suggests a clear increase of observed depression in those who experienced a recent eviction, in comparison to those who had not been recently evicted. These results indicate that a potential future surge in evictions could particularly and drastically impact the health outcomes of adolescents, low-income households, and communities of color. The study goes on to define three specific pathways linking eviction and health which represent those that are most easily studied and intervened upon:
- Psychological Stress – The threat or loss of housing can lead to increased rumination, hopelessness, anxiety, depression, lack of quality of sleep, and risk of suicide.
- Environmental Exposures – Eviction increases an individual’s likelihood of being exposed to substandard housing or becoming homeless, with an increased risk of exposure to dangerous and toxic substances including lead, asthma irritants, and asbestos.
- Disease Exposure – When experiencing eviction, individuals and families may seek shelter in crowded, unsafe situations or seeking alternative accommodations in one’s vehicle or on the street. Any of these options can lead to increased exposure to those infectious diseases that continue to disproportionately affect homeless populations.
The researchers recommend that in order to effectively assess the impacts of evictions, it is necessary to identify other pathways for future analysis, and that prospective studies should seek to follow at risk families through the process of eviction in order to document its repercussions.