New Article from Urban Institute Examines Effects of Housing Instability on Educational Outcomes

Opportunity Starts at Home (OSAH) roundtable member the Urban Institute released an article last month through its Housing Matters initiative. The article examines the effects of housing instability on student educational outcomes, identifies challenges in accurately assessing the number of students experiencing housing instability, and provides policy recommendations to improve outcomes and support students’ housing needs. Policy recommendations include providing more resources to school districts to identify students experiencing housing instability, expanding the ability of school districts to support students’ housing needs, and building partnerships between school districts and housing support systems.

The article reviews the broad definition of housing instability and explores how this definition complicates attempts to generate an accurate count of the number of people in unstable housing situations. When it comes to assessing the housing needs of students, for example, HUD’s annual report on worst-case housing needs includes data on children younger than 18 but does not include data for school-age children specifically, making it difficult to accurately count the number of such students experiencing unstable housing. The article also highlights how disparities resulting from housing discrimination make students of color more likely than white students to belong to households with extremely low incomes and more likely to experience homelessness, both of which may lead to particularly negative academic effects. The article goes on to review the ways in which housing instability disrupts learning, including the long-lasting effects of eviction filings on school attendance, the effect of frequent moves on high school completion, and the effect of overcrowding on child well-being and academic achievement. The article concludes with a list of evidence-based strategies that state and federal policymakers can adopt to best reach students in unstable housing situations.

Read the article here.