Inequitable Housing Practices and Youth Internalizing Symptoms: Mediation Via Perceptions of Neighborhood Cohesion

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

Inequitable Housing Practices and Youth Internalizing Symptoms: Mediation Via Perceptions of Neighborhood Cohesion


  • Richard C. Sadler Division of Public Health, Michigan State University, USA / Department of Family Medicine, Michigan State University, USA
  • Julia W. Felton Center for Health Policy & Health Services Research, Henry Ford Health System, USA
  • Jill A. Rabinowitz Department of Mental Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA
  • Terrinieka W. Powell Department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA
  • Amanda Latimore Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA / Center for Addiction Research and Effective Solutions, USA
  • Darius Tandon Center for Community Health, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, USA


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Abstract:  Disordered urban environments negatively impact mental health symptoms and disorders. While many aspects of the built environment have been studied, one influence may come from inequitable, discriminatory housing practices such as redlining, blockbusting, and gentrification. The patterns of disinvestment and reinvestment that follow may be an underlying mechanism predicting poor mental health. In this study, we examine pathways between such practices and internalizing symptoms (i.e., anxiety and depression) among a sample of African American youth in Baltimore, Maryland, considering moderation and mediation pathways including neighborhood social cohesion and sex. In our direct models, the inequitable housing practices were not significant predictors of social cohesion. In our sex moderation model, however, we find negative influences on social cohesion: for girls from gentrification, and for boys from blockbusting. Our moderated mediation model shows that girls in gentrifying neighborhoods who experience lower social cohesion have higher levels of internalizing symptoms. Likewise for boys, living in a formerly blockbusted neighborhood generates poorer social cohesion, which in turn drives higher rates of internalizing symptoms. A key implication of this work is that, in addition to standard measures of the contemporary built environment, considering other invisible patterns related to discriminatory and inequitable housing practices is important in understanding the types of neighborhoods where anxiety and depression are more prevalent. And while some recent work has discussed the importance of considering phenomena like redlining in considering long-term trajectories of neighborhoods, other patterns such as blockbusting and gentrification may be equally important.

Keywords:  anxiety; Baltimore; blockbusting; depression; gentrification; internalizing symptoms; neighborhood social cohesion; redlining

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/up.v7i4.5410


© Richard C. Sadler, Julia W. Felton, Jill A. Rabinowitz, Terrinieka W. Powell, Amanda Latimore, Darius Tandon. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.