This past January UPD kicked off a project in partnership with the Baltimore Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) funded through a Fannie Mae Innovation Challenge Grant. (See a video of our CEO Doug Austin describing the project here.) The project requires us to develop a model and implementation plan that uses affordable housing as a lever to improve educational outcomes and school enrollment stability for elementary-aged children in neighborhood schools. Through the relationship between families and their school community, we believe Baltimore can intervene before a family becomes homeless. How will this work? Baltimore DHCD will partner with affordable housing providers to facilitate the rehabilitation and maintenance of the properties, and Baltimore City Schools will identify the families of students in need of housing interventions.
We call our work the School-Centered Housing Research (SCHORE) project. Not coincidentally, the name begins with school. This work is not just about creating affordable housing (which is important on its own!). It’s also about expanding the outcomes of that housing by intentionally connecting it programmatically to the work of schools. We are working on our target outcome metrics now, but stability is key—for the families served, the schools as a whole, and the neighborhoods in which both the school and rehabilitated housing sit.
We have made exciting progress on this project and are about to narrow down the list of 118 elementary and combined elementary/middle schools to a handful of sites to pilot the work. Once we’ve identified our participating schools, we will engage a myriad of stakeholders in designing the program mechanics — families, schools, housing professionals, service providers, funders and others. This design will touch on all aspects of the work, including family identification and placement into housing, family connection to support services, housing selection and funding models, and overall project governance across multiple city agencies and stakeholders.
If you are a part of a district or organization that has done similar work you would like to share with us, or if you are interested in finding out more about our efforts in Baltimore, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We love to talk about this work with other people. The more ideas we can share, the better. We will continue to post periodically on this blog about our progress, and we will provide a copy of the culminating white paper here at the end of the calendar year.