Virginia Students in Subsidized Housing Often Have to Attend Low-Performing Schools

Nov 12, 2019

Credit Pascal Volk / Flickr

As the price of housing skyrockets in areas with good schools, children who live in areas with low-cost housing are stuck with low-performing schools.

Children in Virginia who are growing up in subsidized housing are more likely to live near low-performing schools says Spencer Shanholz at the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at UVA.

He recently looked at the relationship between lower-cost housing and higher-performing schools and he found a mismatch.

“We naturally place affordable housing subsidized by the government in areas with low-performing schools. We put them in areas that don’t have high-performing schools,” he says.

Shanholz explains that he thinks the solution is to, "put the subsidized housing in areas where schools are proficient, which is naturally where housing is more expensive.”

Shanholz compared median housing values to the school proficiency index as measured by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. That revealed a key disparity, one he says could be addressed by making affordable housing more available in places with good schools. 

“You could work from the education side and try to bring up the schools in those areas where the homes are less affordable but then you could also argue that would naturally bring up the prices in those regions as well,” Shanholz says.

Ultimately, he says, children in lower-cost housing should be able to attend good schools.

Credit Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.