Public Housing Authorities, Community Colleges, College Access Partners Collaborate to Eliminate Barriers to Postsecondary Success

Date Published: 
May 16th, 2019

Public Housing Authorities, Community Colleges, College Access Partners Collaborate to Eliminate Barriers to Postsecondary Success

New Report and Recommendations from the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities Highlight Innovative Cross-Sector Collaborations to Improve Postsecondary Achievement for Public Housing Residents and Housing-Insecure Students

Featuring Partnerships in Chicago, Columbus, Los Angeles, Louisville, Tacoma

WASHINGTON (May 16, 2019) – A new report released today from the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities (CLPHA), with support from The Kresge Foundation, showcases the work of five pioneering public housing authorities (PHAs) that are successfully collaborating with postsecondary institutions and local nonprofit organizations to increase college access, retention, and graduation rates for current public housing residents and college students who are experiencing homelessness. “Eliminating Barriers to Postsecondary Success: Cross-Sector Collaborations to Improve Postsecondary Achievement for Students Served by Public Housing Authorities,” identifies key elements of effective cross-sector collaborations and offers a series of recommendations to policy makers, PHAs, and philanthropic foundations seeking to scale, replicate, and invest in partnerships between housing and education organizations.

“The trailblazing public housing authorities featured in our new report, along with their postsecondary partners, are redefining the traditional role of public housing in their communities to reach beyond four walls and a roof,” said CLPHA Executive Director Sunia Zaterman. “With combined expertise from the housing and education sectors, two profoundly siloed systems, the partners are breaking new ground to implement targeted interventions that would not be possible without cross-sector collaboration. By documenting the successes, challenges, and future plans of the five partnerships, “Eliminating Barriers to Postsecondary Success” is an instruction guide to practitioners, policy makers, and philanthropy seeking new cross-sector solutions to serve low-income families.”   

The report elevates 11 findings from a November 2018 convening in Washington, D.C., where partners from the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA), City Colleges of Chicago, and One Million Degrees, and the Tacoma Housing Authority (THA) and Tacoma Community College discussed their work to provide financial support and housing opportunities for residents and housing insecure college students; the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) and partner Southern California College Access Network (SoCal CAN) detailed their program to facilitate the college application and enrollment process among young residents, and the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) and partner Columbus State Community College, and the Louisville Metropolitan Housing Authority (LMHA) with partner Family Scholar House explained their dual generation approaches to ensuring young parents can graduate with a degree. 

 “Housing insecurity and homelessness can create tragic off-campus barriers to student persistence and success,” said Bethany Miller, program officer with the Kresge Foundation’s Education Program. “But solutions-driven partnerships, including those highlighted in CLPHA’s recent analysis, between postsecondary institutions, government agencies and departments, nonprofit social service providers and public housing authorities can tear down those barriers, ease the anxiety of housing insecurity and help more students persist and succeed in college. We support this work because increased educational attainment among students with limited means is the key to breaking intergenerational cycles of poverty and increasing socioeconomic mobility.”

To announce the release of “Eliminating Barriers to Postsecondary Success: Cross-Sector Collaborations to Improve Postsecondary Achievement for Students Served by Public Housing Authorities,” CLPHA will host a press conference TODAY, May 16, 2019 at 2:30 PM ET during CLPHA's annual Housing Is Summit in Washington, D.C., a two-day meeting devoted to developing and sustaining cross-sector partnerships. The brief press conference will be followed immediately by an on-the-record panel discussion featuring executives engaging in postsecondary partnerships. See below for more details about the press conference and panel, which will both be webcast live at

“Eliminating Barriers to Postsecondary Success” also includes an overview of the federal policies that support and limit postsecondary achievement for students served by PHAs, and profiles of the five partnerships.

Chicago Housing Authority, City Colleges of Chicago, One Million Degrees
“The Chicago Housing Authority is proud to support thousands of residents through CHA scholarships and the Partners in Education program with City Colleges of Chicago,” said Cassie Brooks, assistant director of education for CHA. “In pairing grant aid with individual counseling and holistic student supports from One Million Degrees, we continue toward the goals of increased academic achievement and, ultimately, self-sufficiency. We thank the Kresge Foundation and CLPHA for collaborating with public housing agencies, highlighting resident successes and bringing resident post-secondary programs to the forefront.”

Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, Southern California College Access Network

“The increasing complex college-going process requires students and families today to be well versed in the academic requirements, financial options, and application procedures,” said Alison De Lucca, executive director of the Southern California College Access Network. “The Southern California College Access Network is deeply grateful for the partnership we’ve forged with the Housing Authority for the City of Los Angeles to provide one-on-one college advising at the housing sites. For our students, the pathway starts with a conversation, followed by consistent guidance from a skilled college access counselor. As students are admitted to college with solid financial aid packages and the support they need to succeed, a strong message is being sent to all residents that college and career aspirations are within reach. This cross-sector collaboration demonstrates the readiness and need for continued college access support in place-based settings.”

Louisville Metro Housing Authority, Family Scholar House
"The long-standing partnership Louisville Metro Housing Authority has with Family Scholar House has helped hundreds of parents provide a better life and future for their children,” said LMHA Executive Director Lisa Osanka. “More importantly, this partnership is helping to break the generational cycle of poverty and ensuring that more Louisvillians are able to participate in the economic opportunities that exists throughout our community." 

“The partnership between Family Scholar House and Louisville Metro Housing Authority has helped make real the dreams of families who have been in need of the stability that is rooted in safe, affordable housing. For our single parents, pursuing dreams of college graduation and new careers begins with a place for them and their children to call home,” said Cathe Dykstra, president and chief executive officer of Family Scholar House. Stronger and more stable families mean stronger and more stable communities.”

Tacoma Housing Authority, Tacoma Community College
“THA’s partnerships with Tacoma Community College and the University of Washington-Tacoma to house homeless or near homeless students is an excellent investment,” said Michael Mirra, executive director of the Tacoma Housing Authority. These students are determined, but without housing their prospects are poor. The degree they seek is a key to their adult prosperity. And since most of them are parents, this is also an investment in the lives and prospects of their children. That makes these partnerships a very good use of scarce housing dollars.”

What: Press Conference and Panel Discussion Announcing CLPHA’s New Report
Eliminating Barriers to Postsecondary Success: Cross-Sector Collaborations to Improve Postsecondary Achievement for Students Served by Public Housing Authorities

When: TODAY, May 16, 2019, 2:30 PM ET

Who: CLPHA, The Kresge Foundation, Postsecondary Partners
Press Conference Speakers
Sunia Zaterman, Executive Director, Council of Large Public Housing Authorities
Bethany Miller, Education Program Officer, The Kresge Foundation
Michael Mirra, Executive Director, Tacoma Housing Authority
Alison De Lucca, Executive Director, Southern California College Access Network

Additional Panelists
Jennifer Thomas Arthurs, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles
Cassie Brooks, Assistant Director of Education, Chicago Housing Authority
Erica Walker, Director of Student Development Projects, City Colleges of Chicago

Where: CLPHA's Housing Is Summit
1616 Rhode Island Ave, NW
2nd Floor, Room B
Washington, DC 20009  

Webcast Link:

RSVP: Jenny Werwa,  


CLPHA: Jenny Werwa,, 202-638-1300x120 / 301-641-5557
Kresge: Kelly Leon,, 248-643-9630
CHA: Molly Sullivan,, 312-786-3344
Family Scholar House: Cathe Dykstra,
LMHA: Christi Lanier-Robinson,, 502-609-9141
SoCal CAN: Alison De Lucca,, 818-742-5583
THA: Brandon Wirth,, 253-448-2790

About the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities
The Council of Large Public Housing Authorities is a national non-profit organization that works to preserve and improve public and affordable housing through advocacy, research, policy analysis and public education. CLPHA’s 70 members represent virtually every major metropolitan area in the country. Together they manage 40 percent of the nation’s public housing program; administer more than a quarter of the Housing Choice Voucher program; and operate a wide array of other housing programs. Learn more at and on Twitter @CLPHA and follow @housing_is for news on CLPHA’s Housing Is Initiative to better insect the housing field and other areas of critical importance such as health and education.


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