Rural/urban differences in receipt of governmental rental assistance: Relationship to health and disability

Carrie Henning-Smith, Alexis Swendener, Katie Rydberg, Megan Lahr, Hawking Yam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Housing is essential to health. Governmental rental assistance is one way to increase access to affordable housing, but little is known about how it varies by rural/urban location. This paper seeks to address that gap by examining rural/urban and within-rural differences in receipt of rental assistance, with particular attention differences by health and disability. Methods: We used data from the 2021 National Health Interview Survey (n = 28,254) to conduct bivariate analyses to identify significant differences in receipt of rental assistance by rural/urban location. We then conducted logistic regression analyses to generate odds ratios of receiving rental assistance, adjusting for self-rated health, disability, sociodemographic characteristics, and the US Census region. Findings: When limiting the sample to those who rent (20.6% of rural residents and 29.6% of urban residents), rural residents were nearly 5 percentage points more likely to receive rental assistance (13.1% vs 8.2%, P<.001). Rural recipients of rental assistance were more likely to have a disability than urban residents (27.9% vs 20.3%, P<.05) and were more likely to report fair/poor health (41.6% vs 31.4%, P<.05). Conclusions: Rural residents are less likely to rent their homes, but, among those who rent, they are more likely to receive governmental rental assistance. This may be reflective of the greater need for rental assistance among rural residents, who were in poorer health and of lower socioeconomic status than urban renters. As housing is essential to good health, policy attention must prioritize addressing a persistent and growing need for affordable housing in rural and urban areas alike.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)394-400
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Rural Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. The Journal of Rural Health published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of National Rural Health Association.


  • disability
  • housing
  • policy
  • structural drivers of health

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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