Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 88, Issue 1, pp 41–53 | Cite as

Community-Based Support among African American Public Housing Residents

  • Danya E. Keene
  • Arline T. Geronimus


Recent shifts from federally owned public housing toward tenant-based housing assistance in the form of vouchers raise important questions about the health and wellbeing of rent-assisted households. In particular, little is known about how these shifts in housing policy will affect access to critical sources of community-based social support among those who receive rent assistance. Using the Survey of Income and Program Participation, we estimate the relationship between residence in a federally owned public housing project and the reported presence of social support among a nationally representative sample of blacks who receive rent assistance. We find that in comparison to other rent-assisted households, public housing residents are significantly more likely to report that people in their neighborhood count on each other, watch each other’s children, and have access to help from a family nearby. We also find that these measures of community-situated social support are associated with reduced odds of school expulsion among children and food insecurity among adults. In conclusion, we find evidence suggesting that public housing communities contain social resources that are important to the wellbeing of their residents and are less accessible to other rent-assisted households.


Minorities Public housing Social support 


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Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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