Long-term housing subsidies and SSI/SSDI income: Creating health-promoting contexts for families experiencing housing instability with disabilities.Disabil Health J. 2018 04; 11(2):214-220.DH
Though disability and housing instability are discussed separately in public health literature, few studies address families at their intersection. As a result, little is known about families who experience both homelessness and disability, how many receive disability benefits like SSI and SSDI, or the influence of those benefits on health-promoting outcomes like housing stability and self-sufficiency. Moreover, no previous research compares the ability of different housing and service interventions to increase disability benefit access.
We examine relationships between disabilities and SSI/SSDI income reported when families enter emergency shelters and later health-promoting outcomes (housing stability and self-sufficiency) and how housing interventions affect SSI/SSDI receipt.
Families in the (name removed) Study (N = 1857) were interviewed in emergency shelters, randomly offered of one of three housing interventions or usual care (i.e., no immediate referral to any intervention beyond shelter), and re-interviewed 20 months later.
A third of families reported a disability at shelter entry. SSI/SSDI coverage of these families increased nearly 10% points over 20 months but never exceeded 40%. Disabilities predicted greater housing instability, food insecurity, and economic stress and less work and income. Among families reporting disabilities, SSI/SSDI receipt predicted fewer returns to emergency shelter, and more income despite less work. Offers of long-term housing subsidies increased SSI/SSDI receipt.
Many families experiencing homelessness have disabilities; those receiving SSI/SSDI benefits have better housing and income outcomes. Providing families experiencing homelessness with long-term housing subsidies and SSI/SSDI could improve public health.