Many schools are letting out this month for summer breaks. And some are closing for good after the school year ends. In fact, in 2009-10, more than 1,800 schools were shuttered across the country.
Some of these schools will sit vacant for years, even decades. But others will be brought back to life as affordable housing. Many developers around the nation are tackling these difficult adaptive-reuse projects to revive community landmarks. In this issue, Deputy Editor Donna Kimura looks at several school conversions and provides an education on the challenges and solutions to making these deals work. Check out the article on page 28.
For my family, school has been a big topic of conversation. Even though it's summer, my son is counting down the days until the end of August when he will begin kindergarten.
Although he's been going to preschool the past couple of years, kindergarten for him is like making it to the big time.
Children can be the most enthusiastic about education, but sometimes hardships can deflate that excitement to learn.
A recent report by the Brookings Institution and First Focus, an organization dedicated to making children and families a priority in federal policy and budget decisions, estimates that 8 million children will be directly impacted by the nation's foreclosure crisis.
The report indicates that foreclosures not only can be detrimental to a child's physical and mental health but also to a child's education.
Research has shown that children who switch schools tend to have lower levels of math and reading achievement than their more stable peers. Also, frequent school changes at both the elementary and high school levels have been linked to higher high school dropout rates.
Even though the report recommends specific school responses to aiding these students, it also says education is not the root problem. “Although education policies can mitigate the negative effects of students moving across schools, the root problem is not in education, but in housing—the exceedingly high number of foreclosures in many parts of the country. Some of these foreclosures may be unavoidable, but others could be prevented through more aggressive policies to encourage loan modifications.”
Stable affordable housing, the primary focus for most of AFFORDABLE HOUSING FINANCE's readers, can play a key role in the education of these children. A companion paper goes on to recommend that Congress should fund the National Housing Trust Fund—which was created by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act but never funded—and allocate an additional $1.7 billion to the president's fiscal 2013 budget for the Department of Housing and Urban Development to maintain current levels of assistance for the housing choice voucher, public housing, and Sec. 8 project-based rental assistance programs.
For more on the study and companion paper, go to www.firstfocus.net.