Housing Affordability and Food Sufficiency

Housing insecurity is not a novel issue. However it is an issue that has been highlighted and exacerbated in the last year during the COVID-19 pandemic. The uneven and unequal economic recovery has been well-documented between different types of workers: those who could work from home and did, while those who could not faced reduced wages. Both types of workers had additional pressure from added caregiving responsibilities.

Outside of the pandemic, food deserts and Fair Housing are also often connected. Racial and ethnic minority families were told in which neighborhoods they can and can not buy property, if they had the funds to buy a home. Even today, these historically minority and low income neighborhoods are often lacking in grocery stores where there is high quality food and fresh produce.1 Big supermarket chains are often found outside city centers and in wealthier suburbs which allows for the persistence of inadequate access to food sources in poorer neighborhoods.2

A recent paper on the topic found that housing and food insecurity have a direct relationship. Families who are experiencing food insecurity had 62% higher odds of also facing housing instability, and families who have housing instability had 40% increased odds of also facing food insecurity.3 Not only does where an owned property or rental unit is located mean the difference in access to food, the ability of families to meet their budgets also plays a critical role.

In this paper, using publicly available data, a strong connection is made between housing affordability and food insecurity. Today, housing affordability is receiving a lot of attention, but the housing affordability crisis is an issue that has widespread budgetary implications for families.

While there are patterns that emerge in the data of where these families are more likely to be located, the authors note that food insecurity is a widesprea issue and occurs in every state, and in nearly all communities.

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1 Deener, Andrew. The Origins of the Food Desert: Urban Inequality as Infrastructural Exclusion. Social Forces 95(3) 1285–1309, March 2017.
2 Eisenhaurer, Elizabeth. In poor health: Supermarket redlining and urban nutrition. GeoJournal 53: 125–133, 2001.
3 Lee, Che Young; Zhao, Xue; Reesor-Oyer, Layton; Cepni, Aliye. Bidirectional Relationship Between Food Insecurity and Housing Instability. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 121: 84-91, 2021.