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The goal of Cityscape is to bring high-quality original research on housing and community development issues to scholars, government officials, and practitioners. Cityscape is open to all relevant disciplines, including architecture, consumer research, demography, economics, engineering, ethnography, finance, geography, law, planning, political science, public policy, regional science, sociology, statistics, and urban studies.

Cityscape is published three times a year by the Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

  • Regulatory Reform and Affordable Housing
  • Volume 23 Number 1
  • Managing Editor: Mark D. Shroder
  • Associate Editor: Michelle P. Matuga

Musty Smells, Mold, and Moisture in the U.S. Housing Stock: Results from Two National Surveys

Veronica Eva Helms Garrison
Jacqueline Bachand
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Policy Development and Research

Peter J. Ashley
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Lead Hazard Control and
Healthy Homes

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the official positions or policies of the Office of Policy Development and Research, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or the U.S. Government.

A large body of public health research concludes that the presence of musty smells, mold, or moisture within the home is associated with the development and exacerbation of asthma and other respiratory ailments in children and adults. Despite this strong relationship, national data describing the scope and breadth of these home hazards in the U.S. occupied-housing stock are limited. Having this information publicly available is important for administrators and policymakers interested in remediating unhealthy housing and preventing asthma exacerbation attributable to poor housing conditions.

In the proposed article, the authors introduce readers to two nationally representative housing surveys managed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that can be used to examine the national prevalence of significant home health hazards: the 2015 American Housing Survey (AHS) and the American Healthy Homes Survey II (AHHS II). Both surveys can be used to describe housing quality aspects within the U.S. housing stock. Additionally, the authors describe and compare the national prevalence of musty smells, mold, and moisture in both surveys. Prevalence rates are compared and discussed to help AHS and AHHS II data users better understand how self-reported housing quality metrics differ from more objective housing quality measures observed by a trained technician. Lastly, important data use implications are discussed.

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