Back to School! Benefits of Homeownership for Kids
Many people focus only on what they could gain financially when they consider buying a home. This month, I’d like to look beyond the financial benefits and consider how owning your own home impacts the health and well-being of our children. Like many families, my wife and I are very dedicated to our boys’ development, education and emotional awareness. My wife went to school and earned her degree in Early Childhood Development, so naturally, I’ve learned quite a bit from her over the years when it comes to kids.
From my perspective as a professional in the housing world, it’s been interesting to watch our sons grow up in a home that we own. Since I like lists, here are just a few things I’ve noticed from our boys over the years as it relates to our home.
1.) Safety – Our boys have a sense of safety and security in our home. They know that it’s their protected space where they can fully be themselves. They have that comfort that comes with familiarity and they know they don’t have to compete for space like they might if we were sharing a backyard with our neighbors. That’s not always a bad thing of course, but there are times when kids need personal space where there is no threat of competition with other children or even adults. In addition, we know for a fact that the proper fire prevention and safety measures are in place within our home to keep our children safe. While we were renting, we had to trust that our neighbors were doing their part to prevent fires from happening in our building and that our landlord had everything up to code.
2.) Pride – It’s always cool to see how our boys react to people who visit our home for the first time. They are so proud and must show everyone their They show visitors their play areas and their rooms and their books and their playset in the backyard. They truly have a sense of pride in the fact that it’s their space. They have gotten to choose what their rooms look like. They got to choose the colors and what they put on the walls. There were no landlord restrictions to hinder us from creating an environment just for them.
3.) Health – In both apartments that my wife and I rented early in our marriage, we had a few issues. The first apartment was a duplex. The person upstairs was notorious for getting water on the bathroom floor which led to it leaking down into our second bedroom below. There were times when we experienced some unpleasant odors. I’m so glad my kids weren’t playing or sleeping in that space at the time! In our second apartment, there was a roof leak that the landlord never properly fixed so there had been mold growing in the ceiling. One day the ceiling collapsed, and that mold was all over the kitchen and dining room area. Then another day while we were in that same apartment, we had a torrential rainfall overnight which left over 4 feet of water in the basement. The flooding damaged the furnace and we woke up in an apartment that was 50 degrees. Now that we own our home, I can properly fix problems as soon as they occur. I am in control of our living conditions and can avoid common health concerns that come with apartment living.
4.) Emotional well-being – My children are more relaxed at home because they know it’s a fully secure, safe place where there are no external threats. And I don’t mean just physical threats. Sharing walls with other tenants sometimes leads to lack of control over your child’s environment and emotional well-being. For example, I once had a neighbor who enjoyed watching action movies late into the night and I could easily hear his tv. Within our own home, we have complete control over what our children hear and see.
5.) Education – I recently read a study released by Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. Data showed that children living in a place owned by their family had higher cognitive test scores, and fewer behavior problems. Those results stayed true even after taking into consideration several economic, social, and demographic variables. The independent impact of homeownership combined with its positive impact on the home environment results in the children of homeowners achieving math scores up to 9% higher, reading scores up to 7% higher, and reductions in children’s behavior problems of up to 3%. I can attest to this data by bragging on my oldest son for a moment (my youngest isn’t in school yet). Last school year our oldest son earned an academic award for being the top in his grade in reading and won a student leadership award for his attitude and desire to help others. We were so proud of him. Parenting is the main contributor in a child’s success or struggles in school. But I feel strongly that a safe, healthy, independent home space contributes greatly to a child’s ability to thrive in school and in life.
I want to end by saying that these are my personal experiences and I do understand that not everyone is able to stop renting TODAY. There are so many things in life that can impact our financial state and our ability to get to the point of becoming a homeowner. But I will say that for us at the Pathfinder HomeOwnership Center, we have seen over 3,000 people get to the point where they and their children can enjoy the benefits of owning their own home! We have come alongside thousands of people over our 20 years of service. Many of these people didn’t believe they would ever own a home. But with hard work and our guidance and encouragement, they did it. They made it happen for themselves. If you have the determination to work at it and are willing to make the necessary changes, homeownership IS possible. And the benefit for you and your children is worth all the sacrifice and hard work.