The Justice, Housing and Health Study

What Is JustHouHS?

The Justice, Housing and Health Study is a multi-year study (2017-2022) 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. (Principal Investigator: Kim Blankenship)

What Is the Research Approach?

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

Preston, A. G., Rosenberg, A., Schlesinger, P., & Blankenship, K. M. (2022). “I was reaching out for help and they did not help me”: Mental healthcare in the carceral state. Health & Justice, 10(1), 1-17.

Groves, A. K., Smith, P. D., Gebrekristos, L. T., Keene, D. E., Rosenberg, A., & Blankenship, K. M. (2022). Eviction, intimate partner violence and HIV: Expanding concepts and assessing the pathways through which sexual partnership dynamics impact health. Social Science & Medicine, 115030.

Denary, W., Fenelon, A., Schlesinger, P., Purtle, J., Blankenship, K. M., & Keene, D. E. (2021). Does Rental Assistance Improve Mental Health? Insights from a Longitudinal Cohort Study. Social Science & Medicine, 114100.

Keene, D. E., Rosenberg, A., Schlesinger, P., Whittaker, S., Niccolai, L., & Blankenship, K. M. (2021). “The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease”: Rental Assistance Applicants’ Quests for a Rationed and Scarce Resource. Social Problems.

Purtle, J., Tekin, E., Gebrekristos, L.T. et al. Association between local public housing authority policies related to criminal justice system involvement and sexually transmitted infection rates. Health Justice 9, 32 (2021). 

Blankenship KM, Dawson AJ, Groves AK, Keene DE, Niccolai LM, Rosenberg AP, Schlesinger P. “Social Determination of HIV: Women’s Relationship Work in the Context of Mass Incarceration and Housing Vulnerability.” AIDS and Behavior. 2021.   

Barrington, C., Rosenberg, A., Kerrigan, D., & Blankenship, K. M. (2021). Probing the Processes: Longitudinal Qualitative Research on Social Determinants of HIV. AIDS and Behavior, 1-11.

Groves, A. K., Niccolai, L. M., Keene, D. E., Rosenberg, A., Schlesinger, P., & Blankenship, K. M. (2021). Housing Instability and HIV Risk: Expanding our Understanding of the Impact of Eviction and Other Landlord-Related Forced Moves. AIDS and Behavior, 1-10.

Rosenberg, A., Keene, D., Schlesinger, P., Groves, A.K., Blankenship, K.M. (2021). “I don’t know what home feels like anymore”: Residential spaces and the absence of ontological security for people returning from incarceration. Social Science & Medicine.

Schapiro, R., Blankenship, K., Rosenberg, A., & Keene, D. (2021). The Effects of Rental Assistance on Housing Stability, Quality, Autonomy, and Affordability. Housing Policy Debate, 1-17.

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.

Community Reports

Winter 2021:
Covid Update

JustHouHS: Experiences of Injustice

We conducted a survey to capture the experience of life during the COVID pandemic. This community report is based on responses to the COVID survey taken between December 2020 and June2021. 259 participants completed the survey. For many communities, COVID has exacerbated economic and housing instability. Throughout the pandemic, federal and state governments have dedicated massive amounts of resources, for extended periods of time, to U.S. citizens. Policies were also passed to protect people from the virus and the economic repercussions of the pandemic. The JustHouHS COVID survey asked questions about participants' experiences with COVID and the policies meant to help people better cope with its impacts.

This Winter 2022 report begins by describing how COVID affected the personal lives and social networks of participants. It then documents what criminal legal involvement looked like for participants during the pandemic. It also explores the economic burdens the pandemic placed on participants and their access to financial and other resources. Lastly, the report describes how JustHouHS participants' housing situations changed with COVID. 

As the pandemic continues, we hope this report helps policy makers and community stakeholders understand the vulnerability of low-income residents who continue to endure, inequitably, the negative consequences of the virus on health and wellbeing.

Read full 2022 report

See all JustHouHS Reports:

  • Winter 2021: Experiences of Injustice
  • Fall 2020: Life During COVID-19
  • Fall 2019: Interim Findings
  • Fall 2018: Overview of Participants

JustHouHS Team

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


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

PhD, MA, Co-investigator
Akiv is Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology 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.

Marie-Claude Jipguep-Akhtar

PhD, Co-Investigator
Marie-Claude is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Howard University. Her research interests include race/ethnicity, gender, the life course, and “place” disparities in criminal justice and health. Her work relies on black sociological perspectives that account for social inequalities that impact socioeconomic, material, political, and other outcomes among BIPOC.