Affordable housing is one key to better outcomes in school

Can high housing costs lead to poor school performance? Researchers from a variety of fields believe they’ve found a connection. Children who live in households without adequate and affordable housing or who experience frequent moves consistently perform poorly in school when compared to their peers.

These are community problems: In the short-term, taxpayers pay a price through increased child and parent health care costs and added reliance on other safety net programs. Over the longer term, communities suffer through decreased educational outcomes and stagnating productivity.

Stephanie Ettinger de Cuba, a research and policy director at Children’s Health Watch in the Boston Medical Center, compared community-wide investments in affordable housing to a vaccine: When parents aren’t overly burdened by housing woes, they have more emotional and financial resources to devote to their children and their community. Children develop better and go on to become more productive citizens.

“Quality, stability and affordability in housing provides long- and short-term community benefits,” she told participants at the Johnson County housing conference. “It is good for the community and for society because the more people who are vaccinated, the less chance contagious disease will spread.”

“We know it is all connected,” de Cuba said.

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