Some of the most innovative programs to help low-income families have come from public housing authorities across the USA who were willing to partner, think outside of the box and go to often uncomfortable places in hopes of improving the life’s of their tenants. Providing a safe, decent and sanitary place to live is the charge of all public housing authorities. The agencies mentioned below not only provide high quality housing but look for ways to go above and beyond. Obviously there are hundreds if not thousands of innovative programs within the public housing industry. I cannot mention all of them so this article is not to slight other great PHAs doing wonderful work but I hope these will be both interesting and inspiring to you.
Here is part I and the first 5 programs.
- Five Year Time Limits in Public Housing: Tulare County Housing Authority: Might as well start this off with a controversial one. I will not advocate one way or another for or against but this was the first PHA in the country to try out time limits. Not only did they try it, they have been doing it for a really long time. In fact, they first timed residents out of their programs in 2004. The Executive Director who helped see this policy implemented wrote a good summary of the program and advantages/disadvantages. Take a read here
- The Possible Project- Cambridge Housing Authority: The Possible Project is a youth entrepreneurship center that teaches youths how to develop and implement entrepreneurial programs. This is a mix of school teaching, hands on learning and overall skills development. This is a collaboration between Makerspace, in Cambridge, Mass with the Cambridge Housing Authority (CHA) and Biogen Idec Foundation. Find out more here
- McCarver Project- Tacoma Housing Authority: The Tacoma Housing Authority used Moving to Work flexibility to create a program designed to help homeless families at the McCarver Elementrary school. There is a lot of literature about this program but the main aims include decreasing the amount of student turnover, increasing reading and math scores of students in the program, increasing the earned income of the parents and stabilizing the school in general. Check out this video
- Cross Roads Assisted Living– Lincoln Housing Authority- This is a personal favorite of mine. A lot of focus goes on working families but senior/disabled often makes up 50% or more of the tenants living in public housing. The good folks at the Lincoln Housing Authority used MTW flexibility to create what amounts to an assisted living facility. It is not a total assisted living but there is a lot of services, housekeeping and help that is available to the residents. This is much more that a senior building that has a partner agency coming in 3 times a week. Check out more here
- Ground Breaking Partnership between Seattle Housing and Seattle Public Schools- Seattle Housing Authority: The Seattle Housing Authority has partnered with The Seattle Public School system to take a systems based approach to serving the nearly 6,000 children who are accessing programs from both entities. The approach which has focused on putting data sharing agreements in place and working on cross-agency relationship building has set a foundation that could be a game changer. Over the next couple of years, the two agencies will focus on improving communications between families and the schools, improving transportation to schools, designing policies and programs that reach often under-served populations and an increase and improvement in partnerships with other agencies that might help improve student outcomes. Read more by clicking here
I will post part II of this article in the next couple of days.