The Justice, Housing and Health Study

What is JustHouHS?

The Justice, Housing and Health Study is a five-year (2017-2021) research project funded by the National Institutes of Health (R01MH110192) that examines how mass incarceration, housing instability, and subsidized housing policies intersect with each other and shape sexual risk and race/gender inequities in these risks that are, in turn, associated with HIV/AIDS and other STIs.

What is the Research Approach?

  • Conduct an ecological analysis of the relationship between level of restrictiveness in housing policies, inequities in rates of HIV/AIDS and other STIs, and race inequities of those rates

  • Conduct a case study in New Haven, CT using longitudinal surveys and semi-structured interviews in order to understand the perspectives and experiences of low-income people experiencing the intersection of mass incarceration, housing instability, and housing policy as they relate to sexual risk and health

  • Explore through semi-structured interviews how various stakeholders in the criminal justice and housing systems interpret and implement policies within their localities

Through analysis of these data and discussion of findings with our research team, CAB members, and study participants, we seek to identify interventions (including those related to policies, programs, systems and community empowerment and action) that will promote sexual health and address HIV- and STI-related disparities.

JustHouHS is a collaborative partnership between American University, Drexel University, and Yale University. This research is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (R01MH11019). It is also supported by the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS at Yale University (1609018355), the Center on Health, Risk, and Society at American University, and the DC Center for AIDS Research (P30AI117970).

Keene, D. E., Niccolai, L., Rosenberg, A., Schlesinger, P., & Blankenship, K. M. (2020). Rental assistance and adult self-rated health. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved31(1), 325-339.

Rosenberg, A., Keene, D. E., Schlesinger, P., Groves, A. K., & Blankenship, K. M. (2020). COVID-19 and Hidden Housing Vulnerabilities: Implications for Health Equity, New Haven, Connecticut. AIDS and Behavior, 1-2.

Tran, E., Blankenship, K., Whittaker, S., Rosenberg, A., Schlesinger, P., Kershaw, T., & Keene, D. (2020). My neighborhood has a good reputation: Associations between spatial stigma and health. Health & Place, 64, 102392.

Purtle, J., Gebrekristos, L. T., Keene, D., Schlesinger, P., Niccolai, L., & Blankenship, K. M. (2020). Quantifying the Restrictiveness of Local Housing Authority Policies Toward People With Criminal Justice Histories: United States, 2009–2018. American Journal of Public Health, 110(S1), S137-S144.

Niccolai, L. M., Blankenship, K. M., & Keene, D. E. (2019). Eviction from renter-occupied households and rates of sexually transmitted infections: A county-level ecological analysis. Sexually Transmitted Diseases46(1), 63-68.

A community advisory board provides insight and guidance related to all phases of JustHouHS. The CAB is comprised of members from the New Haven community and includes housing authority personnel, social service providers, advocacy groups, individuals previously in the criminal justice system, and public housing applicants or recipients.

JustHouHS Team

Check out our Get Involved page to learn more about our student research assistants from American University, Yale University, and Drexel University.


Are you a JustHouHS participant?

If you are participating in this study and would like to reach us, you can email, call or text us.


Kim Blankenship

PhD, MA, Principal Investigator

Kim is a Professor in the Department of Sociology and the Associate Dean of Research in American University’s College of Arts and Sciences. Her research focuses on the social determinants of health and structural interventions to address them. More specifically, she has focused on race, class and gender inequality as they intersect with processes of community disruption in analyzing HIV related inequities and their implications for prevention interventions.

Akiv Dawson

MA, Graduate Research Assistant
Akiv is a PhD Candidate and Just-Julian Fellow in the Department of Sociology and Criminology at Howard University. She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Social Sciences at Georgia Southern University. Her research areas are criminology and social inequality. Her research foci are race and racism, policing, and immigration.

Luwam Gebrekristos

MPH, Data analyst
Luwam is a PhD student in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health. Her research interest lies in examining the social and structural factors that drive racial and gender health inequalities. 

Ali Groves

PhD, MHS, Co-Investigator
Ali is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Community Health and Prevention at Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health. She is committed to promoting social justice and decreasing gender inequalities in health through multilevel interventions. She has engaged in intervention development and research across a diverse array of settings. Her work focuses on the social and structural factors that perpetuate poor sexual and reproductive health across the globe.

Danya Keene

PhD, Co-Investigator
Danya is Assistant Professor of Public Health in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Yale School of Public Health. Danya's mixed-methods research broadly explores how social policies contribute to health inequality, with a particular focus on issues related to housing, neighborhoods and place. Her work has examined how urban revitalization and public housing demolition may affect the health of low-income African American communities. She is currently conducting research on the health consequences of limited affordable housing access among low income adults who are living with type 2 diabetes.

Helen Moore

MPH, Postgraduate Associate
Helen recently graduated from the Yale School of Public Health with her MPH in Health Policy. She is primarily interested in the structural determinants of health and reducing health inequities through policy making. She received her Bachelor’s from Binghamton University with degrees in Africana Studies, Psychology and English Literature.

Linda Niccolai

PhD, Co-Investigator and Principal Investigator for Yale sub-award
Linda is Professor in the Department of Epidemiology (Microbial Diseases) at the Yale School of Public Health. Her research is primarily focused on sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and human papillomavirus. Her research methods include surveillance, behavioral epidemiology, and qualitative approaches.

Jonathan Purtle

DrPH, MPH, MSc, Co-Investigator
Jonathan is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Management and Policy at Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health. He is a mental health policy and services researcher who seeks to understand how evidence-based policy interventions can be most effectively disseminated, implemented, and sustained to reduce health inequalities. Some of Jonathan’s research focuses on developing strategies to disseminate mental health evidence to state policymakers and examining activities to reduce health inequities in US cities.

Alana Rosenberg

MPH, Project Manager
Alana is Project Manager of JustHouHS and previously of the Structures, Health, and Risk Among Reentrants, Probationers & Partners (SHARRPP) project. She has managed several mixed methods research studies and is particularly interested in qualitative and participatory research methods aimed at better understanding structural barriers to health.

Penelope Schlesinger

Research Assistant
Penelope is a Research Assistant with JustHouHS and worked with the team in a similar capacity with SHARRPP. Prior to her work in research, she worked in inpatient and outpatient mental health facilities and for community non-profit agencies. She is interested in the promotion of social justice.

Erdal Tekin

PhD, MA, Co-Investigator
Erdal is a Professor of Public Administration and Policy at American University’s School of Public Affairs. He is an economist with primary research interests in the fields of health economics and demographic economics. Within these fields, the main theme of his research is the economic analysis of risky behaviors and their outcomes on a multitude of domains including health and crime.