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How Housing Authorities Can Shape School Outcomes

In Tacoma, Washington, and other U.S. cities, housing departments are collaborating with school districts to give low-income and homeless students a leg up.
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Maria Rivera/AP

A year and a half ago, Tanisha Barden of Tacoma, Washington, found herself going through a divorce and without a place to live. She and her three young children moved in with her mother, but it wasn’t a good situation. “Other family members were living there, too,” she says. “There were 13 people in a three-bedroom house.”

Barden had heard about a Tacoma Housing Authority (THA) initiative, the McCarver Elementary School Housing Assistance Program, that provides rental assistance to homeless families with children enrolled in kindergarten, first, or second grade at the school. Barden’s daughters were in kindergarten and second grade, so she signed up. (Her son was an infant at the time.)