Creating Opportunity for Children

Barbara Sard and Douglas Rice, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, October 2014, available here

"Most parents want to raise their children in neighborhoods with good schools, safe streets, and neighbors who support their efforts to raise healthy, happy, and successful families. Their hopes are well-placed because a growing body of evidence supports two conclusions about how neighborhoods affect children’s well-being. 

First, high-poverty neighborhoods, which are often violent, stressful, and environmentally hazardous, can impair children’s cognitive development, school performance, mental health, and long-term physical health. Second, poor children who live in low-poverty neighborhoods and consistently attend high-quality schools — where more students come from middle- or high-income families and do well academically, parents are more involved, teachers are likely to be more skilled, staff morale is higher, and student turnover is low — perform significantly better academically than those who do not. . . . 

Based on the evidence on how housing location affects low-income families, particularly children, and the performance of federal rental assistance programs on location-related measures, we recommend two closely related near-term goals for federal rental assistance policy: 1) federal rental assistance programs should provide greater opportunities for families to choose affordable housing outside of extreme-poverty neighborhoods; and 2) the programs should provide better access for families to low-poverty, safe communities with better-performing schools."

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