Buying a home has gotten tougher in recent years, and finding affordable housing is an even greater endeavor, but the struggle is worth the effort.
The National Housing Conference's Center For Housing Policy and Enterprise Community Partners, two housing advocacy groups, say more than just a roof over your head, homeownership with solid neighborhoods in the mix can enhance the lives of families and their children and improve their futures.
A group of reports, "Vital Links: Housing's Contributions to the Nation's Health and Education Objectives," makes the case for affordable housing by revealing its benefits.
In short, the reports say, homeownership is good for you in a number of ways, including:
- Affordable housing is good for your health because it frees up family resources for nutritious food and health care expenditures. Families paying a large share of their income for housing are left with insufficient funds to meet other essential needs, including nutritious food and health care.
- Residential stability provided by affordable housing reduces stress and related adverse health conditions. Homeless children are more vulnerable to mental health problems, developmental delays and depression than children who are housed. Frequent moves, living in doubled-up housing, eviction and foreclosure are also related to elevated stress levels, depression and hopelessness.
- Homeownership also contributes to health improvements by fostering self-esteem, better physical and mental health, lower blood pressure and lower levels of depression and alcohol abuse.
- Green building and transit-oriented development strategies can lower exposure to pollutants by improving the energy efficiency of homes and reducing reliance on personal vehicles. Forty percent of the nation's energy use is consumed in households and private transportation.
- Some affordable housing strategies help families move to communities with stronger school systems and more education-supported environments. While frequent moves appear to have a negative impact on educational achievement, moves to better school systems (or to communities that offer stronger support for education) may have an independent positive impact on educational achievement.
- Children who experience homelessness face numerous educational barriers, including difficulties accessing preschool and Head Start programs, as well as after school care and obtaining personal records necessary for enrollment. Homeless children are more likely than their low-income peers to drop out of school, repeat a grade, perform poorly on tests and in the classroom and suffer from learning disabilities and behavior problems.
- Children of homeowners do better in school, up to 9 percent better in math scores, 7 percent better in reading achievement and 1 to 3 percent lower in behavioral problems, than those who live in rented homes. Children of homeowners also stay in school longer and have higher high school graduation rates than similarly aged children living in rented homes, the studies reveal.