Stability can Help Defeat the Challenge of Mobility

By September 27, 2016From the CEO

From the desk of Jim Morris, President & CEO

This correlation shows my age, but for me September was always the month recognized for returning to school. With the change in school calendars, many students now go back to school in early August. My seventh-grader and fifth-grader each started school the first week of August. My son, the seventh-grader, and I reflected recently that he has never attended the same school for more than two years. He went to three different elementary schools; each move because our family moved residences. My daughter has attended two schools.

When asked if either would like to move between several schools in the same school year, they both agreed “that would stink.” “How would you make friends?” my daughter asked. “How could you keep up in class?” my son added.

Greater Indy Habitat for Humanity recently participated in a study (Residential mobility of single mothers in the Indianapolis’ Mid-North area neighborhoods: An exploratory study of chronic moving prepared by Sagamore Institute for Policy Research) on the mobility of students within the same school year, particularly among those considered to be in poverty. The study concluded that single mothers have the greatest challenge with mobility.*

Financial difficulties like lack of housing affordability, loss of stable employment, foreclosure and eviction, or the high cost of rent were major reasons why single mothers moved residences. A mother I spoke to who purchased a home with Greater Indy Habitat revealed that her son had never had a dresser because they moved regularly. Instead, he just put his clothes in a trash bag. She (and he) was elated to have the stability of a home, which also meant he could have a dresser for his clothes.

Anyone living out of a trash bag because of the absence of a stable home is difficult to swallow. The mobility study also reveals that children’s school performance can suffer because of frequent moving. “Student mobility impacts not only students who change schools but also classrooms that have to adjust to a changing student enrollment. Teachers struggle to balance the introduction of the new student while maintaining the education level of the entire classroom. Similarly, classes were not taught consistently across schools, even within districts, such that students faced further change when they were placed in a misaligned course (i.e. -being in Algebra II when knowledge is at an Algebra I level). For students who transfer without a record or transcript, class placements can take weeks to months to perfect, creating more lost time.”

Affordable homeownership provides stability. Greater Indy Habitat’s affordable homeownership program of education, community engagement through volunteerism and a 0% interest mortgage are the building blocks to that stability. It also ensures no child has to live out of a trash bag anymore.

*Study results are in final draft form and expected to be published soon. Please check back with the Sagamore Institute website for the completed study.