The foreclosure crisis has substantially increased housing instability among public school students in Washington, D.C., according to an Urban Institute research brief released on May 25.
From the school year beginning in 2005 (SY05-06) to SY08-09, the share of public school students living in properties in foreclosure grew from 0.6% to 2.2%, which represents an increase from 430 to 1,517 students. Entering foreclosure increased the likelihood of moving. While 17% of all students moved between SY07-08 and SY08-09, during the same time period fully 30% of the students living in buildings with a foreclosure notice moved.
In their literature review, Comey and Grosz catalog the potentially damaging impact disruptive family moves such as those due to foreclosure can have on the healthy development of children and academic performance. The researchers also note that even if the family does not move, simply experiencing a financial hardship such as a foreclosure can significantly harm children.
The study also notes that students in rented properties were increasingly likely to be counted among those living in properties in foreclosure, rising from 10% of all public school students in this situation in SY03-04 to 28% in SY08-09. The increase was due in large part to the growing number of large multifamily rental buildings receiving foreclosure notices. In general, renters show higher levels of residential mobility, whether or not they are experiencing a foreclosure. Twenty percent of renters in the D.C. public school system moved from SY07-08 to SY08-09 compared to 14% of owners. For those in foreclosure, the gap was even larger, with 38% of renters moving and 26% of owners.
Conversely, the data also show that renters in a property in foreclosure are less likely to move schools then those in owner-occupied units. Ideally this would be a reflection of the legal rights of renters to remain in a unit during and after a foreclosure as well as the financial interest of landlords in keeping tenants in place. However, the higher mobility rates of renters in foreclosure coupled with the fact that renters in the general population switch schools less often, not just those in foreclosure, makes it more likely that when renters move they are more easily able to secure new housing in the same neighborhood and perhaps do not have options beyond that neighborhood.
The study also found that while African American students were disproportionately affected by foreclosure in the early years of the foreclosure crisis (SY03-04 and SY04-05), this distinction has since receded somewhat. The share of all students living in properties in foreclosure who are African American is now similar to their overall share in the student population. Hispanic students have seen their share among the foreclosed population rise consistently between SY03-04 and SY08-09.
The analysis in this study is based on combining school-level enrollment information for traditional public and charter schools, property-level foreclosure notice data, and parcel-level data including whether a home is owned or rented and its sales history. Demographic information on students comes from the enrollment data.
While focused on the District of Columbia, this brief is an important addition to the growing collection of work on impact of foreclosure on families and household mobility.
The Urban Institute’s Where Kids Go: The Foreclosure Crisis and Mobility in Washington, D.C. is available from http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/412342-Where-Kids-Go.pdf