More than a third of U.S. students live in some form of affordable housing environment — and many of these students face more academic barriers than their peers, according to a Public and Affordable Housing Research Corp. study. But stable housing often centralizes support services, giving students a better chance at success.
The report shows low-income students in public housing have fewer absences than their peers, and it also cites evidence showing stable, affordable housing can help children improve school performance. Educators often work with housing providers to help students be successful.
Children whose families receive housing assistance are more likely to have attention deficit disorder, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, developmental delays and health problems. Poverty and stressful living environments can exacerbate these conditions.
Students living in affordable housing benefit from access to the internet, books, health care and programs designed for those with special needs. Students can also receive tutoring, which not only helps academically, but also adds another adult role model into their lives.
The new Stable Homes Stable Schools initiative, for example, helps students and families in Minneapolis Public Schools pay rent for consistent housing while offering wraparound services. The program is designed to enroll more than 600 students and is funded with $3 million from Mayor Jacob Frey’s proposed budget, $1.4 million from the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority and $500,000 from the Pohland Family Foundation for the Housing Stability Fund.
In Washington state, Tacoma Public Schools teamed up with Tacoma Housing Authority to provide five-year housing vouchers so students can continue to attend the same school. In exchange, parents must attend all parent-teacher conferences and participate in education-related school events. The results showed the program worked, with those in the voucher program having a turnover rate of just 23.3%, compared to 57% of the rest of the students in the district. The percentage of students reading at grade level also rose from 35.8% to 68%.
With its HousEd initiative, the Partnership for Children and Youth in California brings together those working in the affordable and public housing field that want to provide educational support for students and other resources for families. Many of those in the network provide after-school programs and connections to health care and other social services.