Housing Authority of Birmingham District Initiative to Boost School Attendance with Housing Incentives Sees Increasing Returns

Date Published: 
March 26th, 2024

From WBMA Birmingham:

The city of Birmingham, Birmingham City Schools, and the Housing Authority of the District of Birmingham (HABD) launched the "Every Day Counts" initiative in January as an effort to combat the issue of chronic absenteeism in schools.

This effort came after the 2022-2023 Alabama Department of Education report card showed 23% of Birmingham City Schools students chronically absent. On top of that initial number, 25% of those chronically absent students come from economically disadvantaged homes.

The heart of the "Every Day Counts" initiative is an offer of funds to help subsidize the students' families' housing costs as an incentive for perfect attendance.

The incentive is monetary either towards their rent or their utilities, so we get donations from partners and then we come back, and we offer this as an incentive," said Larry Williams, chief of housing and programs with HABD.

In January, only two public housing households qualified for the drawing, but in February, there were 135 students qualified. Nine families, from nine public housing communities in Birmingham, received $300 to go towards their monthly housing costs.

"We all know that if they are not in school, they are not being educated so this is about really pushing them and getting them excited about learning," said Williams.

The "Every Day Counts" initiative also provides public housing residents additional resources that support regular attendance and improved literacy, like transportation assistance to and from school and homework help. So far, 65 children are receiving homework assistance, and 42 adults are participating in literacy programs.

Read WBMA Birmingham's article.

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