New NSF-funded Rice research to examine how housing subsidies impact childhood education outcomes

Anna Rhodes

A new, four-year Rice University study funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) will study how housing subsidies impact educational outcomes of Houston children.

Anna Rhodes
Anna Rhodes. Photo credit: Rice University.

Led by Anna Rhodes, an assistant professor of sociology at Rice, the study will analyze educational outcomes of children in households that have received housing choice vouchers (HCVs) to subsidize the cost of private-market rent. The HCV program is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In Houston, the program is administered by the Houston Housing Authority (HHA).

“When low-income families receive a housing choice voucher, the rent subsidy not only helps address families’ housing needs but it may also make it possible to move to neighborhoods where children have access to lower-poverty schools that can improve their educational outcomes,” Rhodes said. “This study will give us a clearer picture of how receiving a housing choice voucher in Houston shapes families’ neighborhood contexts, children’s school enrollment and mobility as well as students’ short- and long-term educational outcomes.”

Given the underrepresentation of Sun Belt cities in existing work on HCVs, Rhodes hopes that this study will offer information that is valuable not only in Houston but also for other fast-growing, low-density metropolitan areas. The housing authority data will be paired with education records of children from these families.

The researchers will utilize data from 2000-22 and have the following goals for the study:

  1. Document changes in the neighborhoods and school enrollment patterns of students in families that receive housing vouchers.

  2. Identify structural barriers to accessing different school catchment areas for families that receive housing vouchers.

  3. Assess how housing and school choices mutually influence the use of vouchers and affect residential and school mobility.

  4. Identify the effects of vouchers on student educational outcomes.

Rice’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research will serve as the data hub for this project.

Rhodes said since the study takes a longitudinal approach, she hopes the research team will gain a clear picture of both short and long-term impacts of the HCV program on education.

The research is funded by National Science Foundation award No. 2242090. More information on Rhodes’ work is here.