Research finds housing instability in Detroit hurts students

Data shows homelessness in Detroit is associated with chronic absenteeism.

A notice of eviction letter.

A recent report by the University of Michigan and Wayne State University shows housing instability in Detroit is impacting children in school.

Survey data with responses from more than 1,400 Detroit parents — and interviews with 20 parents identified as homeless or housing unstable — were analyzed by U-M’s Poverty Solutions and WSU’s Detroit Partnership for Education Equity & Research (Detroit PEER). Detroit PEER found 11-16% of school-aged children in Detroit experience homelessness.

At the same time, housing instability is associated with higher levels of chronic absenteeism.

“This is across the state, but in Detroit specifically, if you look at the data, 90% of students who are identified as being homeless in Detroit Public Schools Community District were chronically absent in the last year of available data [2021-2022],” says Jennifer Erb-Downward, the director of housing stability programs and policy initiatives at Poverty Solutions.

Listen: Research finds housing instability in Detroit hurts students

A brief produced by the institutions lists policies that could create more housing stability in Detroit. The ideas include banning evictions during the school year, expunging eviction records, putting limits on housing application fees and enforcing existing codes for rental properties.

“City government and the local court system can implement changes that would increase housing stability for Detroit’s children,” says Sarah Winchell Lenhoff, director of Detroit PEER and associate professor of educational leadership and policy studies at WSU. “We have opportunities to turn the tide of chronic housing instability in Detroit.”

Related: Detroit’s 36th District Court reinstating virtual first hearings in eviction disputes

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  • Laura Herberg
    Laura Herberg is a Reporter for 101.9 WDET, telling the stories about people inhabiting the Detroit region and the issues that affect us here.