257040 Low-income housing and adolescent development

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 : 4:30 PM - 4:45 PM

Brad Lian, PhD , College of Human & Environmental Services, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL
Randolph Devereaux, PhD, MSPH , Department of Community Medicine, Mercer University School of Medicine, Macon, GA
John Bolland, Ph.D. , College of Human & Environmental Services, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL
Growing up poor is linked to deleterious psychosocial and behavioral outcomes. But the phrase "growing up poor" obscures the diversity inherent in doing so. Many have thrived despite or because of such an upbringing.

We examine relationships between low-income housing type (i.e., public housing developments versus other types of low-income housing) and adolescent health using data (N = 2937) from the Mobile Youth Survey (MYS). The MYS is a longitudinal study of poverty and adolescent risk that has been conducted annually since 1998 in the most impoverished neighborhoods in the Mobile, AL metropolitan area. The survey consists of 406 items concerning a variety of psychosocial measures and risk-related behaviors.

A profile of the participants shows that those living in public housing developments report being significantly less connected to the community and having higher levels of hopelessness than their low-income non-public housing counterparts (ps < .01). Interestingly, public housing youths report engaging in risk behaviors (e.g., getting drunk/high and sexual activity) at lower levels than their counterparts. Results of regressions based on models using housing type as an independent variable and several psychosocial and risk behaviors as dependent ones, with covariates (e.g., gender, age, etc.) are similarly mixed across psychosocial and behavioral realms.

Low-income neighborhoods are diverse and complex social environments that defy simple explanations. Our results reflect this, in that outcomes associated with growing up poor are often dependent on housing types. Programs to address the needs of the poor must recognize the heterogeneity of the poor.

Learning Areas:
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the importance of recognizing the heterogeneity associated with "the poor." Assess adolescent outcomes associated with growing up in public housing versus non-public low-income housing.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been a co-PI on several federally funded grants focusing on residents living in economically impoverished communities. I am involved with Alabama Healthy Start's Mobile TEEN Center
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.