A study by Ingrid Gould Ellen and Keren Horn for the Poverty & Race Research Action Council (PRRAC), Housing and Educational Opportunity: Characteristics of Local Schools Near Families with Federal Housing Assistance, finds that families receiving one of the four main types of federal housing assistance for low income families – public housing, Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance, Housing Choice Vouchers, and Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) housing – are more likely to live near poor and low performing elementary schools compared to renters and families without assistance.
The study used HUD administrative data and census data to examine the nearest elementary schools of households with children. To evaluate school quality, the study used a variety of measures for each school, including the percent of students receiving free and reduced-price lunch as a measure of poverty and the share of students performing at or above the state-defined proficiency levels.
Households with children receiving housing assistance were more likely to live near schools with higher poverty and lower performance than other households with children. The median share of students enrolled in free and reduced-price lunch at the nearest elementary school was 83% for public housing households, 78% for voucher-holders and project-based Section 8 households, and 73% for LIHTC households, compared with 73% for all poor households with children, 66% for all renting households with children, and 54% for all households with children.
Thirty-six percent of public housing households’ nearest elementary schools performed in the bottom 10% of schools ranked by proficiency within their state, as did 33% of project-based Section 8 households, 32% of voucher holders, and 21% of LIHTC households. The nearest elementary school was in the bottom 10% of schools within their state for 18% of all poor households with children, 14% of renting households with children, and 10% of all households with children.
The authors of the study are hopeful that Small Area Fair Market Rents, which enable voucher holders to access higher cost neighborhoods, combined with housing mobility counseling and housing search assistance, will improve access for low income families to neighborhoods with higher quality schools. They also hope improvements to the LIHTC program would help families do the same.
Housing and Educational Opportunity: Characteristics of Local Schools Near Families with Federal Housing Assistance is available at: https://bit.ly/2LFRQJ0