Position title: Professor, School of Social Work
Marah A. Curtis is Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor at the School of Social Work at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Her research focuses on how differences in housing conditions, benefit policies and contextual factors affect the health and well-being of families. Concerns that families that are eligible for or take-up a benefit may differ from non-recipients in ways that are associated with housing and health outcomes are inherent challenges to understanding the role of policy in reducing pressing hardships. Her research focuses on how policies designed to improve the quality and stability of housing, or, that regularize income are effective in doing so as well as meeting broader goals such as decreasing economic hardship. Her research focus on housing is grounded in the recognition that this essential resource is imperative in securing family wellness. This is particularly the case for low-income families who contend with relatively high unemployment rates, often tight rental housing markets, aging housing stock of poor quality, high rates of incarceration and complex family structures. Understanding how these various structural and dynamic forces affect housing stability and health undergird her work. Contextual factors often vary dramatically across race/ethnicity and location, necessitating careful modelling of structural factors associated with health outcomes. As an IRP faculty affiliate and the National Poverty Fellows program director, her training and expertise in housing and benefit policies allow for trainees to explore the dynamic relationship between housing, public policy and health. Current research using the Wisconsin Administrative Data Core and data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) explores the role of housing assistance on adult and child well-being. Professor Curtis teaches lecture and community learning courses on social policy, poverty, and homelessness.