Segregation and the impact on education systems
The landmark Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education officially ended segregation in schools. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other court cases throughout the 1960s and 1970s, further defined the limits of segregation. A 2019 report noted the peak of desegregation occurred in 1988, but since then the share of intensely segregated minority schools has more than tripled. Intensely segregated schools are defined as schools with 90-100% non-white student enrollment, or 90-100% white student enrollment.
Schools with high minority segregation often have significant rates of concentrated poverty, defined as a high percentage of people living below the federal poverty line. Analysis from the Kids Count Data Center indicated that 28% of Black children and 19% of Latino children live in areas of concentrated poverty, compared to 6% of Asian American children and 4% of white children. Housing costs are often low compared to other areas, while the housing stock is often in need of rehabilitation. Homeowners and property owners may lack the resources to re-invest into these properties, and management of larger apartment buildings frequently lack the resources to respond to tenant needs in a timely manner.
Housing, education and how they intersect with race and poverty
Segregation, along with education, housing, poverty, and race are interconnected challenges that affect access and opportunity for higher education, homeownership, and economic opportunity. The Urban Institute, a nonprofit research organization, published a 2012 report concluding that housing is not only critical to meeting children’s basic needs; it can be a platform for improving education outcomes, which can then lead to improved employment outcomes.
A 2017 report connects the impact of affordable housing to health and employment outcomes, but also highlights the impact that affordable housing can have on students. Housing instability can lead to low reading scores and poor graduation rates, a direct result of excessive absenteeism and disruption of peer networks caused by frequently changing schools. Students experiencing homelessness are more likely to be held back, miss class, fail courses, face disciplinary issues, and drop out.
Housing and education projects in Ohio
Two Ohio organizations are utilizing different methods to help children to succeed in school through stable housing.
The I Promise Housing development in Akron, Ohio, is a building effort led by the LeBron James Family Foundation and Graduate Hotels, which prioritizes families involved with the Foundation's I Promise School. In May 2020, the OHFA Board awarded the development $1 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits. The Foundation recognized that its students’ educational outcomes were inextricably linked to stable and affordable housing. Once completed, the development will include transitional housing for students and their families attending the I Promise School and help families find permanent, stable housing.
Move to Prosper, a Columbus-based organization that helps single working moms who want to move to safe neighborhoods with high performing schools. The Move to Prosper organization provides rental support, one-on-one coaching on housing mobility, finances, education, and peer support for three years. The program also works with private sector property owners who might not otherwise rent to these families because of income limits, negative rental history, or low credit scores.
Where do we go from here?
Policy makers need more resources and funding to help implement effective plans to combat the inequity and inequality that exists in education and housing. State agency resources are limited and must be balanced with other compelling state interests like the growing need for quality, affordable housing for seniors, balancing funding between urban and rural areas, and combatting homelessness through Permanent Supportive Housing.
Creative solutions like the Move to Prosper Program, the I Promise model, and similar programming across the country are just a few examples how states, cities, and private developers can work to combat systemic poverty.