Intervening in the cycle of poverty, poor housing and poor health: the role of housing providers in enhancing tenants' mental wellbeing



Garnham L, Rolfe S, Anderson I, Seaman P, Godwin J & Donaldson C (2022) Intervening in the cycle of poverty, poor housing and poor health: the role of housing providers in enhancing tenants' mental wellbeing. Journal of Housing and the Built Environment, 37 (1), pp. 1-21.

Poverty, poor housing and poor health are complexly interconnected in a cycle that has proven resistant to intervention by housing providers or policy makers. Research often focuses on the impacts of the physical housing defects, particularly upon rates of (physical) illness and disease. There has been comparatively little research into the ways in which housing services can underpin the generation of positive health and, especially, wellbeing. Drawing on qualitative data from 75 tenants in the social and private rented sectors, this paper describes the findings of a research project that tracked tenants’ experiences across their first year in a new tenancy in Greater Glasgow, Scotland. The project collected data on tenants’ perceptions of housing and housing service quality, financial coping and health and wellbeing, which was analysed using the principles of Realist Evaluation to elucidate impacts and causal pathways. Being able to establish a sense of home was key to tenants’ wellbeing. The home provided many tenants with a recuperative space in which to shelter from daily stressors and was a source of autonomy and social status. A sense of home was underpinned by aspects of the housing service, property quality and affordability which are potentially amenable to intervention by housing providers. These findings raise questions about the extent to which social housing providers and the private rental market in the UK are able to meet the needs of vulnerable tenants. They suggest that approaches to housing provision that go beyond providing a basic dwelling are needed to successfully intervene in the cycle of poverty, poor housing and poor health.

Health inequalities; Housing; Place; Poverty; Realist; Tenant Wellbeing; Qualitative

Journal of Housing and the Built Environment: Volume 37, Issue 1

FundersEconomic and Social Research Council and Medical Research Council
Publication date31/03/2022
Publication date online03/06/2021
Date accepted by journal19/04/2021
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media LLC

People (2)


Professor Isobel Anderson

Professor Isobel Anderson

Professor, Housing Studies

Dr Steve Rolfe

Dr Steve Rolfe

Lecturer in Social Policy, Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology

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