KCHA’s housing programs provide 20,000 children with a place to call home. These kids live in some of the region’s poorest, most at-risk households, where annual incomes average just $18,000. Many were born to immigrant and refugee parents, and nearly half live in homes where the primary language is not English. Prior to receiving KCHA housing assistance, more than 50 percent of these children and their families were homeless.
As a regional housing authority, our properties lie within the bounds of 17 school districts. Although some of these districts rank among the strongest in the country, many face the challenge of educating large numbers of children from high-poverty communities.
KCHA’s goal for low-income children is to help improve their academic and life prospects. To support this goal, we work both with their families and with a host of community partners to create more successful outcomes.
Supporting Opportunity and Stability
Families with Section 8 vouchers can live wherever they choose, as long as their rent meets specific guidelines. Typically the federal government sets these guidelines. However, KCHA uses its flexibility as an MTW agency to provide a higher subsidy level in certain parts of the county. This gives families with vouchers the ability to live in communities with higher-performing schools while still paying rents they can afford. For families who wish to live in high-opportunity areas, KCHA is also developing programs to help them more easily find housing and better navigate the local school system.
Research shows that changing schools during the middle of a school year disrupts learning both for children who move and the classrooms they leave and join. The effects are especially strong for younger children. To help reduce this disruption, KCHA counsels families who are considering a move on the ways in which that decision could affect their child. We also help them explore other options, such as moving during the summer, or choosing a home in a location that does not force their child to change schools.
Creating Moves to Opportunity
KCHA is piloting a new housing search assistance program, Creating Moves to Opportunity (CMTO), to support families in moving to high opportunity neighborhoods and to encourage children’s success. Visit the CMTO website for more information on the program.
Partnering with Schools and Nonprofits
KCHA works closely with families, school districts, and service providers in three key areas on Kent’s East Hill. These areas have high numbers of children who live in KCHA-assisted housing, along with early learning and after-school activities on site to support them. The Read to Succeed initiative connects KCHA and nonprofit partners to help ensure that students:
- Enter kindergarten ready to learn
- Achieve grade-level competency in English by the end of the third grade
- Have parents who are engaged in the education process.
Early learning interventions and the coordination of in-school and after-school programs support this goal. The program serves children ages 2 to 8.
KCHA also has collective community efforts with key partners in White Center and along the 148th Street corridor in Bellevue. These initiatives work to develop common goals and strategies to connect housing, schools, and nonprofit partners to promote student success.