Housing Insecurity

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Housing Insecurity Profile

Download an in-depth health indicator profile with additional analysis and findings on housing insecurity in Santa Barbara County.

Full Analysis

The link between safe, stable housing and health is well established. Studies have shown that improving housing can improve a community’s overall health.1,2 However, some people are not certain that they will be able to keep their current house or apartment because of income insecurity or other concerns.

Housing insecurity was measured by response to the following question: “Are you worried that in the next 2 months, you may not have stable housing?”.

Findings from the 2019 Santa Barbara County CHNA

Overall, Santa Barbara County saw a non-significant increase of 2.6 percentage points in housing insecurity from 2016 to 2019. This increase was seen broadly across each demographic sub-group, except for those completing college education where the percentage of those reporting housing insecurity decreased by 2.1%. Priority demographic subgroups include adults reporting annual household incomes less than $35,000, those with less than some college education, those aged 18-44, and Hispanics (see figure below).

Additional housing insecurity findings from the 2019 Santa Barbara County CHNA can be found in the Housing Insecurity Health Indicator Profile. Follow this link to learn more about the methods for health indicator profile analysis.

Figure 1. 2019 Percentage of Adults Reporting Housing Insecurity by Demographic Group

Figure 1. 2019 Percentage of Adults Reporting Housing Insecurity by Demographic Group

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Findings from the 2019 Santa Barbara County Listening Tour

Cottage Health and its partners heard from a wide array of leaders and community members through a Listening Tour focused on behavioral health. A full Listening Tour report related to housing insecurity can be found in the Housing Insecurity Health Indicator Profile.

Santa Barbara County’s inherent beauty and clement weather make it an attractive destination for many from various locations. This has brought tourism, along with increasing housing costs, which have resulted in a rise in the homeless population.

Quote from a Cottage Health Physician

“I think along with the cost of living issue is the social desirability of members of our community that don’t want to see campsites and people on the street and on the door stoops. But there’s kind of this judgmental, negative connotation to being undomiciled. And so, I think “Keep Santa Barbara Beautiful” is kinda detrimental.”

The Listening Tour participants described a diversity of ways in which people in Santa Barbara County experience housing insecurity. Some face impossible choices between paying for the competing necessities of rent or food, some are undomiciled, and others crowd together with multiple families in a single dwelling. All of these conditions have repercussions for mental and physical health. Healthcare professionals, service providers, and community leaders identified fair, safe, stable, and affordable housing and sheltering opportunities as a critical step towards improving the wellbeing of Santa Barbara County residents.


1 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (2016). Healthy People 2020. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from https://www.healthypeople.gov

2 Thomson, H., Thomas, S., Sellstrom, E., & Petticrew, M. (2013). Housing improvements for health and associated socio-economic outcomes. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2, Art. No. CD008657.

Behavioral Health Listening Tour

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