Beds And Buses
How Affordable Housing Can Help Reduce School Transportation Costs
September 26, 2011
A report released today by the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty shows that providing affordable housing to homeless families is more cost-effective than providing federally mandated transportation for homeless students.
The report, "Beds And Buses: How Affordable Housing Can Help Reduce School Transportation Costs", comes as the number of homeless students across the country is skyrocketing - close to a million students nationwide, a 20 percent increase from the beginning of the recession.
Because research has shown that students perform better when their school environment is stable, the federal McKinney-Vento Act requires schools to keep students enrolled and provide them with transportation back to their original school, even if they move outside the district due to homelessness.
However, such transportation can be costly. "Keeping kids stable in their education is important, but there's more than one way to do that," said Eric Tars, director of human rights and children's rights programs at the Law Center. According to the report, it would cost a local housing authority about $12,000 per year to house a homeless family of four in a 2-bedroom apartment with a Section 8 voucher. But, if the family had to move outside the district for temporary housing, the costs to the district of transporting the children range from $18,000 to $27,000 (on average). Tars also said, "Giving an entire family housing thus costs 42 to 117 percent less than forcing that family to exit the district, deal with the stresses of homelessness and transport the children back to their school of origin."
Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the Law Center, noted, "Many communities aren't doing all they can to promote affordable housing. Failing to fund or create affordable housing just passes costs on to already cash-strapped school systems when families become homeless and have to move outside their district to seek shelter or cheaper accommodations. We hope this report will help start to reverse that trend."
The Law Center and Columbia Legal Services, who collaborated on the report, hosted a webinar to share the report's findings on Tuesday, Sept. 27.
Click here to download the webinar slides. The full webinar, including audio, is available here.
Click here to download a copy of the report.