Health and employment among young adults receiving federal housing assistance


Jaramillo, Atticus & Rohe, William M. (2023). Health and employment among young adults receiving federal housing assistance. Journal of Urban Affairs. pp. 1-22


Since the 1980s, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has implemented various "self-sufficiency" demonstrations aimed at supporting employment among federal housing assistance clients. A concern associated with these demonstrations is that adults in poor health will be either excluded from these programs or penalized for not meeting program directives to obtain employment. This concern speaks to the ongoing debate about the importance of work barriers - such as poor health- compared to programmatic work disincentives - such as basing rents on income - in shaping the employment outcomes of HUD clients. We advance this debate through a detailed analysis of the relationship between specific health conditions and employment among a sample of young adult HUD clients. Using a novel dataset and quasi-experimental research design, we find that depression, anxiety, hypertension, and diabetes are prevalent conditions among our sample of HUD clients. We further find that depression and hypertension are significant predictors of non-employment, though depression is only significant among HUD clients and not the entire matched sample. We find no evidence that HUD assistance creates a work disincentive. Our results therefore support the narrative that work barriers such as poor health may create a barrier to employment for HUD clients, many of whom may require specialized health and supportive services to obtain employment.



Affordable housing

Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

Journal of Urban Affairs


Jaramillo, Atticus
Rohe, William M.

Year Published





October 9, 2023



Reference ID