Home(S) and “Staying at Home”: An Exploratory Study of the Psychosocial Impacts of Housing Inequalities During the Covid-19 Pandemic
Keywords:Housing, Covid-19 Pandemic, Social Inequalities, Psychosocial Impacts, Mixed Methods
The right to housing is inseparable from the right to life and constitutes the basis for other fundamental human rights. The Covid-19 pandemic put housing at the forefront of defence against the new coronavirus, making structural inequalities in housing more visible and dramatic. This article aims to study the impact of housing conditions on the Covid-19 pandemic experience using mixed methods. It presents the preliminary results of a survey with open and closed questions applied to 527 residents in Portugal in 2021. The results show that people with better housing conditions report a more positive impact of housing during the pandemic, namely on physical and psychological health. The textual analysis with the software IRAMUTEQ to the answers to the open question reveals that the positive impact is associated mainly with the possibility of practicing physical exercise and developing leisure activities outdoors. On the contrary, the lack of indoor or outdoor space, problems with humidity and infiltration, poor sound insulation, or little sun exposure are associated with the experience of health problems and deterioration of emotional and psychological well-being. The results, therefore, suggest that the adherence to the measures of confinement and social isolation at home produce very differentiated experiences depending on the housing conditions of the populations, with important impacts both in terms of physical and mental health. It is concluded that there is a need to combine quantitative and qualitative methodologies to understand the relationship between inequalities in housing conditions and the psychosocial impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
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