On Tuesday, December 10, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced the Affordable Housing for Educational Achievement Demonstration (AHEAD) Act, legislation intended to encourage public housing authorities and school districts to work together to address child and family homelessness through a federal grant program. CLPHA and the Housing Is Initiative worked closely with Senator Murray’s office to draft this important legislation that promotes local solutions and cross-sector collaborations to help address the many challenges that children experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity must overcome to achieve educational success.
The AHEAD Act is based on successful Washington state partnerships that work to reduce child and family homelessness like those undertaken by CLPHA members King County Housing Authority, Seattle Housing Authority, Tacoma Housing Authority, and Vancouver Housing Authority. In an interview the Seattle Times about the bill, CLPHA Executive Director Sunia Zaterman said that the AHEAD Act “will be a huge leap forward, both in having an actual law that incentivizes and funds this and validates the approach.” Zaterman added that she is confident that the bill will advance in Congress, saying of Senator Murray, “I would not discount at all her ability to move this bill forward.”
KCHA, SHA, THA, and VHA expressed strong support for the AHEAD Act in Senator Murray’s press release announcing the bill’s reintroduction.
CLPHA Board President and KCHA Executive Director Stephen Norman: “Our community’s future is in our children. And that future starts with safe, secure housing and educational opportunity. Senator Murray’s initiative puts these two issues together in critical ways that will encourage effective, efficient, locally driven initiatives that will help ensure that all children have a chance to succeed. This is an incredibly important vision.”
CLPHA Board Member and SHA Executive Director Andrew Lofton: “When families are coping with homelessness parents are stressed just to survive and children struggle to perform in school and develop appropriately… We see firsthand the remarkable progress in families’ lives and the academic and social achievements of children when we catch them in time, provide stable housing and support families with the right services. We applaud Senator Murray for recognizing the gaps in our capacity to do this, and the importance of housing authority, school district and other community-based partnerships to identify, house and support these vulnerable families in turning their lives around.”
THA Executive Director Michael Mirra: “We’ve learned that there are ways to spend a housing dollar that not only helps prevent or end a family’s homelessness, but that can also help their children succeed in school and promote the success of schools that serve low-income children… The AHEAD Act recognizes the lessons we’ve learned in Washington State to help students thrive in school and in life, and we are grateful for Senator Murray’s work to extend these best practices nationwide.”
VHA Executive Director Roy Johnson: “All children have the right to a decent education and we know that lack of access to safe, affordable housing is one of the biggest barriers to making that right a reality. The AHEAD Act would allow us to take our local partnerships with school districts to the next level to help our children thrive. The collaborative efforts will create security and stability for at-risk children; it will also address the likelihood of generational poverty with the provision of earlier interventions that promote educational achievement.”
CLPHA & Housing Is applaud Senator Murray for introducing the AHEAD Act and for lifting up successful Washington State PHA/school district partnerships as models for how to improve outcomes for children and youth for low-income families across the country.