Informed by a survey of educators, Enterprise Community Partners and The NHP Foundation offer recommendations for ensuring educational success for students facing housing instability

COLUMBIA, Md. - Enterprise Community Partners (Enterprise) and The NHP Foundation (NHPF) today released a joint industry report, Growing Up & Out of Poverty: Enhancing Academic Success Through the Intersection of Housing and Education, highlighting trends and offering recommendations on how schools, communities, housing providers and nonprofits can work together to address housing challenges that impact educational outcomes for young people.

“Research shows that housing instability is harmful to a student’s development and educational achievement. By coming together to address it early on, educators, housing providers and their partners can change the trajectory of a child’s life,” said Stephany De Scisciolo, VP of Knowledge, Impact & Strategy, Enterprise.

Following a nationally representative survey of 500 educators from across the country, Enterprise and NHPF found that three-quarters of respondents reported housing-related challenges—including homelessness, evictions, frequent moves, overcrowded living conditions and poor-quality housing—are somewhat common or very common among their students. Nearly 90 percent of educators reported that these challenges have a moderate or significant impact on the educational performance of young people. At the same time, more than one in three educators (38%) indicated they do not know how to connect students experiencing housing challenges with necessary supports, including housing, academic assistance, mental health services and others.

“What has become apparent is that many educators need help connecting families experiencing housing instability with the critical resources they need,” said Richard Burns, president and CEO of NHPF. “We encourage all school districts to partner with local community development and human service providers to identify the available resources and any gaps that may be apparent in making connections.”

In the industry report, Enterprise and NHPF identify five main recommendations to better support students experiencing housing instability:

  1. Increase the availability of service-enriched housing. When supports like before- and after-school programs or other resources are not provided by schools, making them available at home through neighborhood nonprofits and housing providers can help students do better in school and lead to better outcomes in life.
  2. Enhance staff training and improve support plans. Many schools and districts do not train educators on how to assist students experiencing housing challenges. Community developers and schools can work together to establish what steps a school should take when needed to ensure students and families get the support they need.
  3. Recognize the importance of building trust with students and families. Schools and housing providers need strong communication and referral mechanisms to help families understand that services are available and do not come with strings attached. Service coordinators in housing developments can work closely with residents to help overcome these challenges.
  4. Remove barriers faced by educators to connect students with supportive services. Many educators do not know what services are available, how to help students overcome the perceived stigma of relying on support services or what families can expect when using them. Building relationships between housing service providers and educators can help bridge this gap and get assistance to students and families faster.
  5. Create and promote cross-sector partnerships to ensure families are served and supports are aligned. By working together across their respective sectors, community development, human services and education partners can leverage their resources and skills to improve a set of agreed-upon, shared outcomes.  

Read the full report online. Initial findings were revealed at NHPF’s annual symposium on October 14, 2020. 

About the survey
The educators surveyed were spread out across the country and worked in urban, suburban and rural schools serving students from kindergarten through grade 12. They represent traditional public schools, charter schools and full-service community schools. Half of the educators work in Title I schools, in which 40 percent of the students come from low-income households.

About Enterprise Community Partners
Enterprise is a national nonprofit on a mission to make home and community places of pride, power and belonging for all. To make that possible, we operate the only organization designed to address America's affordable housing crisis from every angle: we develop and deploy programs and support community organizations on the ground; we advocate for policy on a nonpartisan basis at every level of government; we invest capital to build and preserve rental homes people can afford; and we own, operate and provide resident services for affordable communities. All so that people not only make rent, they build futures. With this end-to-end approach, 40 years of experience and thousands of local partners, Enterprise has built and preserved 793,000 homes, invested $61 billion in communities and changed millions of lives.

About The NHP Foundation
Headquartered in New York City with offices in Washington, DC, and Chicago, IL, The NHP Foundation (NHPF) was launched on January 30, 1989, as a publicly supported 501(c)(3) not-for-profit real estate corporation. NHPF is dedicated to preserving and creating sustainable, service-enriched multifamily housing, and scattered-site communities that are both affordable to low and moderate income families and seniors, and beneficial to their communities. Through Family-Centered Coaching, NHPF’s subsidiary Operation Pathways engages with, and assists, families experiencing poverty and other hardship, to problem-solve together. Through partnerships with major financial institutions, the public sector, faith-based initiatives, and other not-for-profit organizations, NHPF has 57 properties, including 9,973 units, in 15 states and the District of Columbia. For more information, please visit www.nhpfoundation.org.

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