Informal Supports, Housing Insecurity, and Adolescent Outcomes: Implications for Promoting Resilience

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American Journal of Community Psychology


Adolescents in low-income, marginalized families are vulnerable to behavior problems that impede healthy functioning and threaten long-term well-being. Informal supports may fill an important gap for these households as they navigate financial and social stressors. Instrumental support from social networks and neighborhood cohesion may promote family stability and youth well-being; further, these informal supports may promote resilience to housing insecurity, which is linked with a range of adverse adolescent outcomes. The present study utilized data from a large sample of at-risk families with children (N = 2425) to investigate whether instrumental support and neighborhood cohesion predicted adolescent behavior problems over 10 years and whether these links were mediated by housing insecurity. Results of structural equation modeling with latent variables showed direct links from instrumental support to anxious/depressed behaviors and from neighborhood cohesion to aggressive behaviors, as well as an indirect link from instrumental support to aggressive behavior via housing insecurity. Findings suggest informal supports are an important source of resilience for low-income families who may be excluded from or are reluctant to engage with formal social systems. Further, stable, connected communities with highly embedded social networks can promote housing stability and youth well-being in a virtuous cycle.


Adolescent mental health; Housing insecurity; Instrumental support; Neighborhood cohesion; Resilience; Structural equation modeling


Child Psychology | Urban Studies

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