HuffPost What's Working Honor Roll: Here's How To Keep Homeless Kids In School

providing housing secures the education of once homeless children

As journalists, we dutifully report on what's going wrong, from scandals and corruption to natural disasters and social problems. But far too often the media fails to show the whole picture, neglecting to tell the stories of what is working. From scientific breakthroughs to successful crime-reduction initiatives, the What’s Working Honor Roll highlights some of the best reporting and analysis, from a range of media outlets, on all the ways people are working toward solutions to some of our greatest challenges. 

There are more than 30,000 students in Washington state's K-12 public-school system who do not have a stable place to live. Being homeless has a tremendous impact on both children and their families: It puts a strain on mental health, leads to improper nutrition and makes access to medical care more difficult. As expected, homelessness is associated with behavioral problems and affects students' academic performance. According to a 2014 report from Columbia Legal Services, students who relocate schools may miss anywhere from four to six months of academic progress each time they move, creating gaps in their education.

But researchers at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and Vanderbilt University have stumbled upon a surprisingly straightforward solution: providing homeless families with housing.

As part of a recent study, HUD offered 2,200 homeless families various forms of housing assistance. After 18 months, researchers discovered that families given permanent housing subsidies -- as opposed to other, more temporary forms of help -- were most likely not only to stay in their homes, but experienced lower rates of domestic-partner violence, family separation and adult psychological distress. Most important, kids did better in school. 

While it remains to be seen whether cities and states across the country will adopt the researchers' proposal, it shows that sometimes, the best solution to a problem is the most simple one.  


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