UPD is working with the Baltimore Department of Housing and Community Development to develop a School Centered Housing Research (SCHORE) model connecting affordable housing opportunities to families through their elementary schools. (Read more about the work here.) We hope to pilot the SCHORE project next year, and it will be used as a proof point on a range of questions.
Will providing young families stable housing result in a demonstrable decrease in Adverse Childhood Experiences?
Does providing stable housing to young families through a school-centered program stabilize the enrollment and attendance of the students in those families and even others in the same class?
Does it support the stability of the school in general?
Can we lower the costs of transportation costs for a school’s homeless students enough to support the rental subsidies for this model?
Can the support services we provide as part of this program eventually support families to the point of transitioning out of this housing program?
There are, of course, limits to the model. For example, while we will want to know the academic outcomes of the students whose families live in SCHORE houses, we know a lot more goes into academic achievement beyond the control of this program (such as curriculum, instructional quality, efficacy of the academic assessments, etc.). Likewise, while we think that the rehabilitation of properties for this program will have a positive impact on the safety and quality of the neighborhood, we know that the small scale of this work will not bring about full-fledged neighborhood revitalization on its own. Nevertheless, we will measure these components of the program as a second tier of metrics to explore.
All of the questions are important, and we know the City of Baltimore and funding providers, as well as the myriad of other stakeholders cheering on this work, are eager to see the answers. But there is an important proof point in this model that is central to this work but often overlooked. This program is not possible without the collaboration of many players, including several city agencies, most especially the Baltimore Department of Housing and Community Development and Baltimore City Schools. This model, first and foremost, tests the idea of whether families are made better off with the partnership between the housing department and the school district than if these entities each worked to solve the issue of family housing instability on their own. And furthermore, how do these agencies work and govern together a program that combines the production and maintenance of affordable housing specifically reserved for an elementary school’s families?
Time will tell on this specific model. But we believe that a lot of the nation’s most challenging problems might best be solved—and maybe they can only be solved—through increased collaboration between government agencies. We think this pilot will provide further evidence of the benefit of collaborative program implementation among agencies to tackle issues that cross government silos, as well as highlight additional ways the work of shared program governance can be administered. Stay tuned. In early 2021 we will publicly release a white paper on this model and begin the pilot phase.