May 24, 2016

William J. Mathis, (802) 383-0058,
Daniel Quinn, (517) 203-2940,

New Concise Policy Brief Investigates Equity-Focused Approaches

Housing policies that address segregation can reduce the opportunity gap in schools

EAST LANSING, Mich. (May 24, 2016) — The sixth in a series of concise policy briefs investigates five equity-focused approaches tied to educational opportunities and life chances for students. Research-Based Options for Education Policymaking is a compilation of short policy briefs that takes important policy issues and identifies policies supported by research.

Each section focuses on a different issue, with recommendations to policymakers based on sound scholarship. The compendium is produced by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) and is funded in part by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice. In Housing Policy, Kevin G. Welner and William J. Mathis, University of Colorado Boulder, discuss closing the opportunity gap through housing-focused policies coupled with other efforts.

Welner and Mathis review five interventions: (1) school improvement policies; (2) school choice policies; (3) school desegregation policies; (4) wealth-focused policies; and (5) housing-focused policies.

Regarding the approaches, Welner and Mathis caution that individually the interventions, without other supports, are insufficient to overcome the impact of poverty as it relates to food insecurity, housing insecurity, employment insecurity, or other obstacles facing students in schools today.

Because educational opportunities and life chances are inextricably tied to family wealth and housing advantages, the authors call for a comprehensive, cohesive approach to address societal inequities. Welner and Mathis recommend that multiple approaches can and should be implemented as a united set of mutually supportive initiatives.

In their recommendations, the authors suggest that housing integration policies that address housing supply and affordability can be beneficial. Specifically, they highlight the positive impact that inclusionary zoning can have on neighborhoods. Inclusionary zoning uses incentives to encourage developers to build affordable housing in high-cost neighborhoods.

They conclude that sustained efforts in all areas should be pursued, including: school improvement, desegregation efforts, and policies that address wealth inequity. These policies do not have to be mutually exclusive.

Find the concise brief on the GLC website:

This brief is also found on the NEPC website at:

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The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice is to support and disseminate high quality research and reviews of research for the purpose of informing education policy and to develop research-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform.

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