The Tacoma Housing Authority (THA) and Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) were recognized for their work in addressing homelessness among community college students and other barriers to higher education in a recent article for Inside Higher Ed. THA’s College Housing Assistance Program began in 2014 in response to rising rents in Tacoma and Pierce Counties. High rates of homelessness among Tacoma Community College students created opportunities for partnership between the College and THA, which now serves 150 students — many of whom have children of their own — who are homeless and near homeless. With the help of a housing voucher and additional financial aid, students are able to continue pursuing their degrees.
CHA is taking a slightly different approach to a similar problem. In working with City Colleges of Chicago through a program known as Partners in Education, the housing authority covers tuition and other fees for residents. Over 600 CHA residents are currently enrolled in Chicago’s community colleges, and while many receive federal and state financial aid, additional assistance from the housing authority ensures continued enrollment. As Moving to Work (MTW) agencies, both THA and CHA are able to engage in postsecondary partnerships as a result of program flexibility.
THA and CHA will further discuss these partnerships with the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority, and Louisville Metro Housing Authority at a postsecondary convening co-sponsored by CLPHA, Housing Is, and Kresge next month. CLPHA looks forward to discussing how initiatives like these can be replicated and brought to scale across the country.