Objectives. We estimated the effects of maternal depression during the postpartum year, which is often an unexpected event, on subsequent homelessness and risk of homelessness in a national sample of urban, mostly low-income mothers. Methods. We used logistic regression models to estimate associations between maternal depression during the postpartum year and both homelessness and risk of homelessness 2 to 3 years later, controlling for maternal and family history of depression, prenatal housing problems, and other covariates. Risk factors for homelessness included experiencing evictions or frequent moves and moving in with family or friends and not paying rent. Results. We found robust associations between maternal depression during the postpartum year and subsequent homelessness and risk of homelessness, even among mothers who had no history of mental illness, whose own mothers did not have a history of depressive symptoms, and who had no previous housing problems. Conclusions. This study provides robust evidence that maternal mental illness places families with young children at risk for homelessness, contributes to the scant literature elucidating directional and causal links between mental illness and homelessness, and contributes to a stagnant but important literature on family homelessness.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health