Rising homelessness and children going to school
Parents are understandably concerned about whether to send their children to school this coming semester. This article in the Washington Posts led me to think a bit deeper. Want to help kids weather this school year? Keep them from getting evicted.
Here are some of the things that caught my attention.
Survey estimates suggest nearly one-third of U.S. households fell short on their housing payments in July. Recent estimates suggest the pandemic could result in 28 million people losing their homes.
If Congress doesn’t extend this moratorium and expand its coverage, or if states and localities don’t extend and expand their own protections, landlords can start moving to kick renters out of their homes, a near-inevitability.
Then over 14 million households with children, are especially at risk of losing their homes.
What does that mean for children in those homes?
They will begin the semester dogged by a process that will throw their lives into even greater chaos.
Some things I did not know or think of…
- households with children are more likely to receive an eviction judgment in court.
- If children are a risk factor for eviction, eviction also puts children at risk.
- We knew long before the covid-19 pandemic that eviction, residential instability and homelessness have considerable adverse effects on children’s educational outcomes, health and cognitive development.
Regaining stability after an eviction in normal times isn’t easy, since an eviction record can make it difficult to obtain new housing. Changing residences may force students to move schools midyear.
Along with housing security, students’ ability to complete schoolwork online will be thrown into disarray, as the pandemic has closed typical alternative sources for Internet access such as libraries and fast food restaurants. Some initiatives like providing Internet hot spots might help, but not nearly enough.
With many school districts shifting to online instruction this fall, students are expected to trade school buildings for spaces in their homes, a change predicated on students having homes in the first place. What happens when that space isn’t there, or when students are suddenly displaced?
More insidiously, rampant eviction will expand racial disparities in academic achievement. Black households experience higher rates of eviction filings. Landlords file against black renters at around twice the rate as they do against white renters. Mass eviction that disproportionately impacts black families will exacerbate inequitable access to needed resources and construct further barriers to closing academic achievement gaps.
Current measures haven’t completely prevented landlords from moving to evict tenants anyway, however, and nearly all of the lingering protections will expire by the time students enter virtual classrooms this fall.
Without swift action, an avalanche of evictions awaits: Recent estimates suggest the pandemic could result in 28 million people losing their homes. We need to pray about this. But we also need to speak out about this.
PS August 2-7 is Homelessness Week in Australia.