Doubling up and the erosion of social capital among very low income households

Kimberly Skobba, Edward G. Goetz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Priced out of the market and unable to access rental assistance, very low income households often rely on their social support networks to secure housing. In this study, we use housing career interviews to explore the pathways of 77 very low income families in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metropolitan area in the United States. Doubling up with family and friends accounted for 30% (206) of the 683 non-institutional housing arrangements documented in the study. While living doubled-up, the participants in our study faced expectations of financial contributions and household labour, a lack of privacy and independence and crowded, often chaotic, living conditions. Doubling up was an emergency response to housing need for many low-income households in our study, but the erodent nature of this form of social capital suggests that it is as likely to exacerbate residential instability as it is to resolve it.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-147
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Housing Policy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 3 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, © 2014 Taylor & Francis.


  • USA
  • doubling up
  • low-income households
  • social capital
  • support networks


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