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Longitudinal study of the housing and mental health outcomes of tenants appearing in eviction court

Abstract

Purpose

Millions of people are evicted from rental properties in the U.S. annually, but little is known about them and their mental health. This study followed a cohort of eviction court participants over time and assessed their housing and mental health outcomes.

Methods

One hundred and twenty-one tenants were recruited from an eviction court in New Haven, Connecticut, and their housing, mental health, and psychosocial status were assessed at baseline, 1, 3, 6, and 9 months following their encounter with the court. Inverse probability weighting was used for missing data.

Results

At baseline, 42% of participants had appeared in eviction court before, 28% had experienced eviction, and 44% had been previously homeless. In addition, 39% screened positive for generalized anxiety disorder, 37% for posttraumatic stress disorder, 33% for major depressive disorder, and 17% reported suicidal ideation. At follow-up, participants experienced increased days of housing instability and homelessness over time with some persistent mental health symptoms. Less than one-quarter of participants received any mental health treatment during the 9-month follow-up period. About 54% of participants followed reported that they had to change their residence after their court appearance consistent with court records. Participants who had an eviction-related move experienced greater housing instability over time than participants who did not.

Conclusion

Together, these findings suggest that there is a sizable subgroup of adults who present to eviction court with persistent housing and mental health issues who do not receive adequate assistance in addressing these issues.

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Data availability

The data are securely stored and available only to authorized researchers and auditors. Copies of the measures used in the study are available upon request.

Code availability

The programming code for analyses in the study can be made available upon request as determined by the authors.

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Funding

There was no specific funding for this study.

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Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

JT conceptualized the study, interpreted the data, and wrote the manuscript. NJ collected the data and help interpret the data. DS analyzed the data and helped write the manuscript. RR helped write the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jack Tsai.

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Conflict of interest

None of the authors report any conflict of interest.

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Tsai, J., Jones, N., Szymkowiak, D. et al. Longitudinal study of the housing and mental health outcomes of tenants appearing in eviction court. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 56, 1679–1686 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-020-01953-2

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-020-01953-2

Keywords

  • Homelessness
  • Evictions
  • Mental health
  • Housing