"Within the four characteristics of housing considered in this research, poor quality housing was the most consistently and strongly predictive of children's well-being across the span of childhood."

The Impact of Low-Quality Housing on Education and Health
At its most basic level, a home is shelter: adequate housing prevents health problems by protecting the residents from the elements, the summer heat, and the winter cold. Poor-quality housing can foster poor health when dampness persists, infested with pests, or contaminated with mold or lead paint. The home is also the primary environment for raising children; a stable, affordable, quality home environment reduces stress on all family members.

A 2014 study (quoted above) followed more than 2,400 children of families living in low-income neighborhoods in Boston, Chicago and San Antonio and found that housing quality may be even more important than affordability when it comes to the growth and development of children. Those growing up in poor-quality housing plagued by leaking roofs, broken windows, rodents, stove not working, peeling paint, unsafe or unclean environment, etc. experience greater emotional and behavioral problems at young ages and later see their school performance suffer. The researchers found that low-quality housing induced stress in parents which in turn affects the children's socioemotional functioning. The findings suggested that rather than being a source of security and escape from life's pressures, a home with quality deficiencies may add to other stresses experienced by poor families, leading to a cumulative negative impact on well-being. In fact, of all the factories studied, housing quality was the most consistently and strongly predictive of the well-being of low-income children and youth, more so than housing stability, affordability, and ownership. In addition, living in poorer quality housing was associated with lower average reading and math skills among adolescents.

Education and health are inseparably intertwined which is why adequate housing is so important. In her 2007 testimony to Congress, Dr. Megan Sandel of the Boston University School of Medicine to Congress in 2007 said, “A safe, decent, affordable home is like a vaccine, It literally prevents disease.” Living in homes with cockroaches, mice, or other pests increases the risk of ending up in the hospital. Exposure to molds and chronic dampness is linked to asthma. Exposure to lead can cause long-term effects that stunt brain development. Living in poor and unsafe neighborhoods increases rates of mental health problems, such as depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome, and moving two or more times, as is common when the availability of affordable housing is limited, increases the risk of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and other chronic diseases. These and other problems are associated with higher numbers of school absences (putting children behind in schoolwork and lowering academic achievement), a lack of connectedness to school, cognitive deficiencies, and reduced performance on standardized tests and in the classroom.

Education should be the great equalizer. It should be the first step out of generational poverty
, however classroom instruction can only go so far, and schools can only help children so much. It's critical that we support the work of the schools and teachers by helping to provide affordable homes that promote good health and ensure that children have a adequate place to study, focus on school, and develop. There is no doubt that increasing the supply of high-quality affordable houses is critical to improving educational outcomes for low-income children.
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