CLPHA, Tacoma and Denver Housing Authorities’ Education and Health Programs Highlighted in Bitterroot Magazine

Date Published: 
July 25th, 2019
In the latest issue of Bitterroot, an online weekly magazine covering the politics, culture, economy, and environment of the Western U.S., Editor-in-Chief Jake Bullinger highlights programs at CLPHA member PHAs Tacoma Housing Authority (THA) and Denver Housing Authority (DHA) that address housing instability and improve residents’ life outcomes through impactful local partnerships.

In Tacoma, THA partners with Tacoma Community College (TCC) to house students experiencing or at risk of homelessness through their College Housing Assistance Program (CHAP). Started in 2014, CHAP now offers housing assistance to 250 students at TCC and the University of Washington Tacoma. Two years into a three-year study, the program showed quantifiable results: while 60 percent of the program’s first 45 participants stayed in school, only 16 percent of a 150-student control group did.

In the article, THA Executive Director Michael Mirra stresses that cross-sector work clearly aligns with the housing authority’s goals and values: “We’re more than a landlord, more than a real estate developer. We’re a social justice agency with a technical mission… If you understand your job that way, it brings you pretty directly to education.”

DHA also addresses residents’ needs and improves life outcomes through a focus on health and wellness in its communities. When designing its mixed-income Mariposa community, DHA integrated features to improve resident health, such as pedestrian-friendly streets and local community and botanical gardens that provide free, fresh produce. Mariposa also offers nutrition programs and an on-site navigator to help residents access health care services. DHA plans to continue fostering healthy neighborhoods and healthy residents in its redevelopment of the Sun Valley community, where it will build a new supermarket slated to open in 2020. Currently, the nearest full-service market to Sun Valley is over a mile away.

“It’s important to have proximity to healthy food,” said DHA Executive Director Ismael Guerrero. “And it’s not just somebody growing potted tomatoes. It’s actually a much larger selection of vegetables, and the market will give us a venue for people to have some economic opportunities.”

CLPHA Executive Director Sunia Zaterman underscored the positive impact that housing authorities can have on resident life outcomes when they partner with the education and health sectors. “We know that children in school that suffer from housing instability do not perform as well. We know that folks with housing instability, homeless populations, make enormous demands on the health care system,” said Zaterman. “The effectiveness of housing authorities could be significantly enhanced by partnering with other entities that, for the most part, were already serving this population.”


Read Bitterroot’s Article


Learn more about THA’s partnership with TCC in “Eliminating Barriers to Postsecondary Success,” CLPHA’s report elevating shared learnings from innovative public housing authorities and their postsecondary education partners about their initiatives to increase postsecondary educational achievement for low-income PHA residents and college students experiencing homelessness.

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