Abstract for: Settling for Shelter: Exploring a Dynamic Model of Housing Choice for Low-Income Families

Housing is a critical pathway through which health inequities are reproduced. Children and families of color, particularly those who live in public housing, have lower access to the health-supportive aspects of housing and are more likely to contend with the health-diminishing aspects of housing within neighborhood contexts that exacerbate health disparities. Mixed-income initiatives attempt to improve housing and neighborhood quality for families living in public housing. However, they require an involuntary move for families living at the site targeted for redevelopment. Little is known about how families make housing choices under conditions of such involuntary, forced mobility. We address this knowledge gap by conducting a comprehensive literature review and developing a causal loop diagram (CLD) to identify salient factors that influence housing choices in the context of forced mobility. Findings suggest that families experience immense pressure to move and are more likely to prioritize short-term goals to avoid homelessness and settle for shelter that results in suboptimal gains to housing and neighborhood quality. This increases risks for additional forced moves. Future plans include validating the conceptual model through interviews with key stakeholders and developing System Dynamics models optimized for different implementation contexts.