Home ownership builds wealth and that creates health was one conclusion reached in a new study in the Housing Policy Debate, an esoteric research publication produced by secondary mortgage market giant Fannie Mae’s Foundation.

The research article, “Does Housing Mobility Policy Improve Health,” examined a litany of studies that attempted to show that better housing conditions improve public health. Home ownership is at the apex of the housing ladder and seems to result in the healthiest people. The research showed:

  • One study found that home ownership helps prevent long-term illness.

  • Another showed that children living in houses owned by their parents experienced lower rates of behavioral, emotional and cognitive problems.

  • Home ownership may confer psychological benefits, according to one study conducted by the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Home ownership also carries some risk to health. For example, a British study showed that “when homeowners experienced problems paying their mortgages or fell into arrears, their well-being declined.”

“Thus, the fear of losing one’s home results in worse health,” the researchers concluded.

Beyond home ownership, the Fannie Mae study looked at the range of federal housing policies that could help promote better health, including fair housing laws and rental assistance.  

The report said the research found mixed results.

“Although housing has long been hypothesized to affect health, documenting this relationship has been challenging,” wrote the authors of the study, who all work at either the Harvard Medical School or Harvard School of Public Health.

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