Housing Policy is School Policy: Economically Integrative Housing Promotes Academic Success in Montgomery County, Maryland

Heather Schwartz, The Century Foundation, 2010, available here

“Montgomery County’s reputation as both an affluent area with good schools and a district that serves low-income students relatively well is firmly established. Much less known is the fact that it operates the nation’s oldest and by far the largest inclusionary zoning program—a policy that requires real estate developers to set aside a portion of the homes they build to be rented or sold at below-market prices. The zoning stipulation has caused the production of more than 12,000 moderately priced homes in the county since 1976. . . . In this report, I describe the study, the findings, and their ramifications.  First, I review why economic integration in neighborhoods and schools might matter in the first place.  Then I provide greater context about the Montgomery County school district and the housing policies in question, and briefly describe the methods by which I compare the schooling outcomes of children in public housing.  Following that, I set out the results of the study by describ­ing the influence of school poverty (as measured by two different metrics) and neighborhood poverty on children’s math and reading outcomes.  Then I clarify what can and cannot be learned from this study.  Finally, after reviewing my findings, I consider how Montgomery County’s experience might pertain to that of similar suburbs, as well as to the challenges facing policymakers concerned with the issues of affordable housing and education.”

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