The purpose of this study was to develop an understanding of how living on a low income affects the health of women and focused on the experiences of women living in a new housing co-operative built exclusively for unattached, low income women of middle age. Initially, the main focus of this study was the health beliefs, concerns, and practices of women living on a low income. As the study evolved, however, the experience of living in the housing co-operative was of such concern to the participants that the effects of housing on health came to have greater importance. A qualitative method was used based on Spradley's ethnographic method (Spradley, J. (1979). The ethnographic interview. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, New York). Data included interviews with ten volunteer participants and field notes about these interviews and collection spanned a period of eight months. The major health issues that arose for the women focused around the concepts of the identity, environment and control. The women frequently mentioned aspects of the environment in regards to their health. The co-operative itself was an interesting environment with the potential to reduce the women's sense of isolation. The social context of the co-operative, however, was often cited as a source of stress rather than support. One of the most striking and unexpected findings of this study was that the women did not identify with one another. The women interviewed perceived themselves as a diverse group without a common identity. Finally, control emerged as a major theme underlining the women's perceptions of health. When asked to describe their lives, the women invariably began discussing coping strategies they used to manage on a low income. One woman actually made the connection between poverty and a lack of control by defining poverty as "having no options".