Effect of housing relocation and neighborhood environment on adolescent mental and behavioral health

Gayle R. Byck, John Bolland, Danielle Dick, Gregory Swann, David Henry, Brian Mustanski*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background This study examined whether relocating from a high-poverty neighborhood to a lower poverty neighborhood as part of a federal housing relocation program (HOPE VI; Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere) had effects on adolescent mental and behavioral health compared to adolescents consistently living in lower poverty neighborhoods. Methods Sociodemographic, risk behavior, and neighborhood data were collected from 592 low-income, primarily African-American adolescents and their primary caregivers. Structured psychiatric interviews were conducted with adolescents. Prerelocation neighborhood, demographic, and risk behavior data were also included. Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM) was used to test associations between neighborhood variables and risk outcomes. HLM was used to test whether the effect of neighborhood relocation and neighborhood characteristics might explain differences in sexual risk taking, substance use, and mental health outcomes. Results Adolescents who relocated of HOPE VI neighborhoods (n = 158) fared worse than control group participants (n = 429) on most self-reported mental health outcomes. The addition of subjective neighborhood measures generally did not substantively change these results. Conclusions Our findings suggest that moving from a high-poverty neighborhood to a somewhat lower poverty neighborhood is not associated with better mental health and risk behavior outcomes in adolescents. The continued effects of having grown up in a high-poverty neighborhood, the small improvements in their new neighborhoods, the comparatively short length of time they lived in their new neighborhood, and/or the stress of moving appears to worsen most of the mental health outcomes of HOPE VI compared to control group participants who consistently lived in the lower poverty neighborhoods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1185-1193
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines
Volume56
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2015

Keywords

  • Adolescent
  • housing relocation
  • mental health
  • sexual risk-taking
  • substance abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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