Local Housing Choice Voucher Distribution Policies Impact Healthcare Utilization: a Randomized Natural Experiment.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of urban health : bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine


oregon; portland; system; core


While associations between obtaining affordable housing and improved health care are well documented, insufficient funding often forces housing authorities to prioritize limited housing vouchers to specific populations. We assessed the impact of obtaining housing on health care utilization at two urban housing authorities with different distribution policies: Housing Authority A prioritized seniors and people with disabilities, while Housing Authority B prioritized medically complex individuals and families with school-aged children. Both housing authorities used random selection to distribute vouchers, allowing us to conduct a randomized natural experiment of cases and waitlisted controls. No significant demographic differences were present between those receiving vouchers and waitlisted controls. Housing Authority A vouchers were associated with increased outpatient visits (OR = 1.19; P = 0.051). Housing Authority B vouchers decreased the likelihood of emergency department visits (OR = 0.61; P = 0.042). This study provides evidence that, while obtaining housing can result in better health care outcomes overall, local prioritization policies can influence that impact.


Population Health