How Housing Matters
This past week I had the opportunity to attend the “How Housing Matters 2016 Conference” sponsored by the National Housing Conference. It was a convening of housing, healthcare and education providers and foundations from across the country. At my table alone, I had the opportunity to meet with a board member of APAH as well as a housing agency in California and a healthcare foundation representative and an educator from Missouri.
NHC brought all of these different stakeholders together because research has shown time and time again, that it’s almost impossible to have positive outcomes for clients if housing providers don’t recognize the education and healthcare issues clients are facing, and vice versa. It’s why “Housing First” policies haven’t always succeeded…because a client may not be able to be successful in that housing without the individualized case management addressing other issues that may exacerbate their homelessness. As we read last week, Lloyd Pendleton was successful in Utah, because he recognized you couldn’t have successful housing without the case management.
One of the conference sessions focused on education and housing. Several different stakeholders participated in the panel. One woman who runs a housing agency talked about how her case managers were discovering that the children in their housing were not attending school. So they set about trying to understand why that was happening, because it wasn’t just that the children were staying home from school because they were sick. One parent had kept their child home from school one day just to run errands with her. But what they found in these interviews, is that these parents had lost hope that an education (and attendance) would lead to better outcomes for their children in their future because they no longer had faith in their school systems.
And then she shared how one particular community in San Francisco addressed this attendance issue with a “Walking School Bus” program. In participating in this program, the community as a whole was able to help rebuild the faith and hope that these families needed that their children could end up living better lives.