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High Opportunity Neighborhoods Can Improve Health Among Low-Income Children

a family in front of a house

A new study from San Francisco State University and the University of California, San Francisco, suggests that children who live in high opportunity neighborhoods may be more protected from the negative health effects of poverty than those who grow up in less resource-rich places. In a study of 338 kindergarten-aged children from six public schools, researchers found that children in low-income families who lived in neighborhoods with fewer opportunities (such as access to green space, social services and quality schools) had higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol and were in poorer physical health than low-income children who lived in higher opportunity neighborhoods.

 

This finding adds to the body of knowledge around the central role that housing plays in child health. In addition to the health impacts of a home’s neighborhood context, the interior environment significantly affects children’s exposure to asthma triggers, pest-borne illnesses, lead poisoning, accidental injury, and other health risks. Home repair and rehabilitation programs that address substandard housing conditions, such as the NC Housing Finance Agency’s Urgent Repair and Essential Single-Family Rehabilitation programs, can reduce this exposure and also help individuals and family stay in their homes longer.