Housing and Education

How and why do students succeed or struggle? For decades, parents, educators, elected officials and researchers have experimented with curriculum, technology, classroom arrangements; standardized tests; and policies governing teacher excellence, student behavior, and parental contracts, toward the goal of student success.

Housing Stability and Student Outcomes

Of the many factors that contribute to each individual student’s outcomes, two key indicators point to the importance of stable, safe and healthy housing: student mobility and chronic absenteeism. Student mobility refers to moving within the school year and chronic absenteeism is defined as missing 10% or more of 180 school days. Both of these indicators are associated with a host of difficulties, ranging from poor academic achievement, behavioral issues and, ultimately, higher drop-out rates.

For the 2015-2016 School Year, Rhode Island’s Student Mobility rates ranged from a low of 3% in Barrington to a high of 27% in Central Falls. Rates for Chronic Absenteeism ranged from a low of less than 1% in East Greenwich to a high of 45% in Providence. Both of these indicators are impacted by housing instability, housing affordability, and unhealthy or substandard housing stock. With 51% of renters and nearly 37% of homeowners with mortgages paying more than 30% of their incomes toward housing, and the age of the housing stock increasing exposure to lead, the effect of housing conditions on student performance is substantial.

Students Experiencing Homelessness

Homeless Students - Chart

Among the students with high rates of mobility and chronic absenteeism, are children and youth experiencing homelessness. Children and youth experiencing homelessness, often live in shelters, hotels, doubled-up with others, or live outside. Under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, all school districts are required to ensure access to public education for children and youth who are displaced due to homelessness. In the 2015-2016 School Year, the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) reported 1,049 students ranging from pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade as experiencing homelessness. This is a 5.22% increase from the 2013-2014 School Year.

Learn more about School Attendance advocacy.

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One Empire Plaza
Providence, RI 02903

RI Alliance for Healthy Homes

A project of
HousingWorks RI