Preventing Evictions Prevents Negative Health Outcomes in Diverse Communities 

In Hudson County, New Jersey, a place known for its vibrant, racially diverse communities, the shadow of housing instability looms large, with at least 10,000 eviction filings each year. This staggering number not only disrupts lives but can also have profound psychological impacts, particularly on vulnerable populations such as pregnant African American women.  

Listen to Matthew Rand’s interview with Shawnita Sealy-Jefferson, Associate Professor of Epidemiology at The Ohio State University College of Public Health. She led the study, which appears in the American Journal of Epidemiology. 

The insights from a recent study on “Neighborhood Eviction Trajectories and Odds of Moderate and Serious Psychological Distress During Pregnancy among African American Women” shed light on the broader implications of eviction beyond the immediate threat of homelessness. 

The American Journal of Epidemiology article underscores the critical need for reducing evictions to improve the health of people of color: 

  • Elevated Psychological Distress: The study found a significant association between higher neighborhood eviction rates and increased odds of moderate to serious psychological distress (MPD and SPD) among African American women during pregnancy. This suggests that reducing evictions can directly contribute to improving mental health outcomes in communities of color. 
  • Impact of Structural Racism: The findings underscore how manifestations of structural racism, such as high eviction rates in neighborhoods predominantly inhabited by people of color, contribute to health disparities. Addressing and reducing evictions can be a step towards dismantling these systemic barriers and promoting health equity. 
  • Cycle of Vulnerability: The article highlights how eviction and the threat of eviction contribute to a cycle of vulnerability, exacerbating health disparities among pregnant African American women. By focusing on eviction prevention, we can break this cycle and provide a more stable environment conducive to better health outcomes. 

Evictions are more than a housing issue; they’re a public health crisis that disproportionately impacts communities of color, as evidenced by recent studies. The Waterfront Project, Inc. is at the forefront of this battle, providing vital legal services to stop evictions and, by extension, protect community health. Our work matters and you can also be part of the solution: 

  • Beyond Housing: Addressing evictions is critical in ensuring the well-being of communities of color. Studies highlight how eviction rates correlate with increased psychological distress, making eviction prevention not just a housing issue but a health equity one. 
  • The Role of Legal Services: The Waterfront Project, Inc. champions the cause by offering free legal assistance to those facing eviction. This service is pivotal in preventing homelessness and the cascading negative impacts on mental and emotional health, underscoring the need for legal defense in safeguarding communities. 
  • A Call to Action in Hudson County: With its diverse population, Hudson County feels the acute impact of housing and health disparities. The evidence showing a significant increase in psychological distress linked to eviction filings emphasizes the urgent need for interventions that address the root causes of evictions and advocate for housing justice. 

The Waterfront Project, Inc.’s efforts in providing legal defense are a crucial step toward community stabilization. Yet, the journey doesn’t stop here. Comprehensive housing counseling, community-based initiatives, and policies focused on ensuring housing justice are essential in tackling the structural racism and socioeconomic disparities fueling high eviction rates. 

As we advocate for a Hudson County where everyone has access to safe, stable, and affordable housing, your involvement is crucial. Whether it’s volunteering, spreading the word, or supporting policy change, your actions can help build resilient, healthy communities. Join us in this fight for housing justice and community well-being, recognizing the pivotal role of The Waterfront Project in creating a brighter, more equitable future.