Beyond Four Walls: Health and Education Benefits of Affordable Homeownership

Healthy Communities Start at Home.

Today in our city, one out of five working families spends more than half of their earnings to pay for the roof over their heads. Oregon now has one of the highest hunger rates in the country, and the Oregon Hunger Relief Task Force reports that the most important reason Oregonians go hungry is the high cost of housing.
In search of an affordable place to live, many low-income families move into dilapidated trailers or older homes with little insulation. Too often, low-cost housing is of substandard quality, providing unsafe and unhealthy living conditions for families. Health risks include lead paint in older buildings, pests in poorly maintained structures and the damp, moldy conditions so prevalent in the Portland Metro area.
A child living in inadequate housing has an increased risk of slow growth and is 10 times more likely to contract meningitis, respiratory problems or asthma. Asthma is the number one reason for school absence, and school absence affects performance. Safe, solid housing eliminates many of the conditions that pose health threats to children and parents alike.
Read more about how healthy housing creates healthy communities by clicking here.

Success in School Starts at Home.

Almost half of all low-income families in Multnomah County move every 15 months, primarily due to rising rents. We have schools with classroom mobility rates as high as 60%, and research shows that it takes a child four to six months to recover academically from each school transfer. A high rate of student mobility within a school also has a collective, negative impact on all students, even those who do not move. This is one reason Habitat has chosen to focus building efforts in specific neighborhoods, to have the greatest stabilizing impact.
During the past five years, Habitat has built 37 homes in the Lents neighborhood in southeast Portland and 45 homes in Gresham’s Rockwood neighborhood, introducing hundreds of stable students to the local schools.
Just as it enhances younger students’ ability to learn, affordable homeownership promotes adult learning and career advancement. Since purchasing their Habitat homes, we have seen parents win competitive scholarships to private colleges, complete associate degrees and receive advanced certifications in professional trades. These achievements help families retain employment even during tough economic times.
By providing a hand up, not a handout, Habitat’s unique homeownership program maintains the dignity and pride of the families we serve. With a less than 1% foreclosure rate, Habitat has a proven track record helping hardworking families leave substandard housing behind forever.
Read more about the effects of homeownership on education by clicking here.

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