Effect of a Randomized Controlled Trial of Housing Vouchers on Adolescent Risky Sexual Behavior Over a 15-Year Period

Bria Gresham, Naomi H. Thyden, Samantha Gailey, Theresa L. Osypuk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examined whether a housing voucher intervention influenced adolescent risky sexual behavior (RSB) across 15 years in the Moving to Opportunity Study. Low-income families in public housing that resided in 5 cities were randomized to one of three treatment groups: a housing voucher to move to low-poverty neighborhoods (i.e., < 10% poverty rate), a Sect. 8 voucher but no housing relocation counseling, or a control group that could remain in public housing. Youth and their caregivers completed baseline surveys, as well as two uniform follow-ups: interim (2001–2002; 4–7 years after baseline) and final (2008–2010; 10–15 years after baseline). Approximately 4,600 adolescents (50.5% female) aged 13–20 years participated at the final timepoint. Adolescents reported on their RSB, including condom use, other contraceptive use, early sexual initiation (< 15 years old), and 2+ sexual partners in the past year. We modeled each indicator separately and as part of a composite index. We tested baseline health vulnerabilities as potential effect modifiers. The low-poverty voucher group and the Sect. 8 voucher group were combined due to homogeneity of their effects. Applying intent-to-treat (ITT) regression analyses, we found no significant main effects of voucher receipt (vs. control) on any RSB. However, we found protective effects of voucher receipt on RSB among youth with health problems that limited activity, and youth < 7 at baseline but adverse effects among females, youth > 7 at baseline, and youth who were suspended/expelled from school. Results highlight the importance of understanding how housing interventions differentially influence adolescent health and behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)457-469
Number of pages13
JournalArchives of sexual behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2023.


  • Adolescence
  • Neighborhood
  • Randomized controlled trial
  • Risky sexual behaviors

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural


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