Alexandria Column: Giving Children Roots

Alexandria Column: Giving Children Roots

Commentary–Rebuilding Together Alexandria

Rebuilding Together Alexandria volunteers provide free home repairs for low-income homeowners.

Rebuilding Together Alexandria volunteers provide free home repairs for low-income homeowners. Photo Contributed



Despite the housing meltdown, homeownership remains an important investment tool for families and a source of long-term wealth. But the benefits of homeownership extend well beyond and have implications for many aspects of people’s lives and a communities’ health. We see this everyday as we meet homeowners throughout the city and witness how homeownership transforms lives and neighborhoods.

That’s why our Rebuilding Together Alexandria volunteers work to preserve housing affordability and revitalize the Alexandria community by providing free home repairs for low-income homeowners. If we can help these homeowners stay in their homes, it’s better for them and the community as a whole. This is particularly true for families with children.

Research supports this too. For example:

  • Children moving into better neighborhoods had positive long-term impacts for both kids and parents, according to the HUD study “The Effects of Exposure to Better Neighborhoods on Children.” The report cites higher: earnings, college attendance, and marriage rates as outcomes. And the younger the child was when moving, the greater the impact.

  • Homeownership helps stabilize neighborhoods since “homeowners move far less frequently than renters, and hence are embedded into the same neighborhood and community for a longer period,” concludes a report by the National Association Realtors about the social benefits of homeownership.

  • The same NAR study reported that homeownership makes a significant positive impact on educational achievement, including a greater likelihood by teenagers to stay in school. The study noted that “homeownership brings residential stability, and it is the stability that raises educational attainment.”

  • Children living in owned homes had math achievement scores up to 9 percent higher, reading achievement up to 7 percent higher, and behavioral problems up to 3 percent lower than for children living in rentals, according to an Ohio State research report.

This data affirms what we know from the families we serve — like Sam and his wife and their two children who struggled to maintain their home after a job loss. Earlier this year, our volunteers fixed a plumbing issue, repaired a roof and a kitchen appliance, and helped make their home more energy efficient.

By improving their housing conditions, we helped them keep their home, ensuring they can stay rooted and their kids can continue to go to the same schools. In turn, Sam and his family contribute to the economic, social and cultural diversity that make our city special.

If you know a family like Sam’s who could benefit from our services, we encourage you to introduce them to us. To learn more, visit or call 703-836-1021.