Success in school is easier with a decent place to live

  |     |   Issues in housing

It’s back to school season with families around Iowa checking school supply lists by day and kids playing outside at night on their last free evenings before they go back to their academic routines.

At Community Housing Initiatives, we think everything about being a kid is easier when you have a quality place to live.  Succeeding in school is no different.  In fact, the apartments we rent around Iowa are related to educational success for kids in many ways, according to a recent report by the Center for Housing Policy.

Some of the connections are easier to see.  When families have access to quality places to live they can afford, more of the family budget can be spent on school supplies, books, and other family necessities.  Families that don’t have to struggle as hard to make ends meet have more time and energy to focus on learning at home.

We work hard to keep our apartments well maintained because we know that quality homes and apartments people can afford are cleaner and safer, with fewer health hazards and less crowding.  Those things help kids too.

Researchers studying education among young people also look at more complicated issues like how often families have to move and the role moving plays in how kids do in school. Why families move is critically important.  When families lose their home because of financial or other problems, kids go through a lot of upheaval and can be set back in school.  An affordable apartment or house can be an important stabilizing force for a whole family.

One recent Urban Institute report sheds more light on the complicated relationship between where kids live and how they do in school.  More than just housing is part of this picture–crime rates, the job market, access to parks, transportation quality and more are influential on how our community’s kids do in school.

There is evidence to suggest programs like Housing Choice Vouchers and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit can help families access better schools, and ultimately do better in school.  Still, the best way to give more families access to good education opportunities through housing is still hotly debated by policy experts. While we continue to learn about how kids’ living situation affects how they do in school, we know that planning and building our apartment communities with care — and maintaining them well — are critically important for the kids we serve.  And in that way, we are happy to help send our youngest residents back to school with the best start we can.

School bus photograph by H. Michael Miley via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons BY-SA license.

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