Published Date: July 09, 2024

Access to affordable housing is a critical social determinant of health. In California, housing challenges are especially pronounced due to high costs of living, soaring housing prices, and limited affordable housing options. Understanding the role of housing as a determinant of mental health is crucial to developing new policies and strategies to address not only the housing, but also mental health challenges facing many people in California. This policy brief utilized data from the 2022 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) to examine the relationship between housing insecurity and mental health among the California adult population.

Findings: Nearly one-fifth (18%) of California adults reported that their housing situation was unstable, while 41% frequently worried about struggling with housing costs. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of adults who experienced housing instability frequently worried about housing costs in the past year, more than twice that of adults who have stable housing (34%). More than 2 in 5 (45%) adults with unstable housing experienced moderate or serious psychological distress (MSPD) in the past year compared to one-quarter (25%) of adults with stable housing, yet those with unstable housing utilized mental health care at a similar rate to adults who had stable housing (22% vs. 18%, respectively).

Data Points

5.2 million

California adults felt their housing was unstable.

30% vs. 16%

Noncitizens in California who experienced housing instability compared with U.S. citizens in California who experienced housing instability, respectively.

45% vs. 25%

Adults with unstable housing who had MSPD in the past year compared with adults with stable housing who had MSPD in the past year, respectively.