The AHEAD Act would provide incentives and funding for housing authorities and school districts to work together to tackle child and family homelessness

The bill encourages innovative and local solutions to the unique challenges that different school districts face in combatting youth homelessness

Legislation inspired by successful WA innovations, partnerships & best practices in Seattle, King County, Tacoma, Vancouver and beyond

KUOW: Child homelessness has doubled in Washington state in the last decade – MORE HERE

ICYMI: “Sen. Patty Murray aims to help students experiencing homelessness with new bill” – MORE HERE from KNKX

(Washington, D.C.)  – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate education committee and a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, introduced legislation to help address the many challenges that youth facing homeless and housing insecurity must overcome as they pursue an education. The bill, the Affordable Housing for Educational Achievement Demonstration (AHEAD) Act is based on successful innovations created in Washington state and will create a federal grant program to help encourage housing authorities and school districts to work together to address child and family homelessness.

“Every kid should have the opportunity to succeed in school and in life, but for those facing housing instability or navigating homelessness, the deck is overwhelmingly stacked against them,” Senator Murray said. I’ve seen how effective efforts in Washington state have been to provide support and coordinate services for students and families most in need, and this bill is a step forward that will help empower other communities across the country to pursue these best practices and innovations. We need to be doing everything we can to help these kids, and this bill is a great first step.”

“Our community’s future is in our children. And that future starts with safe, secure housing and educational opportunity. Senator Murray’s initiative puts these two issues together in critical ways that will encourage effective, efficient, locally driven initiatives that will help ensure that all children have a chance to succeed. This is an incredibly important vision.” Said Stephen Norman, Executive Director of the King County Housing Authority.

“When families are coping with homelessness parents are stressed just to survive and children struggle to perform in school and develop appropriately,” said Andrew Lofton, Executive Director of the Seattle Housing Authority. “We see firsthand the remarkable progress in families’ lives and the academic and social achievements of children when we catch them in time, provide stable housing and support families with the right services. We applaud Senator Murray for recognizing the gaps in our capacity to do this, and the importance of housing authority, school district and other community-based partnerships to identify, house and support these vulnerable families in turning their lives around.”

“We’ve learned that there are ways to spend a housing dollar that not only helps prevent or end a family’s homelessness, but that can also help their children succeed in school and promote the success of schools that serve low-income children,” said Tacoma Housing Authority Executive Director Michael Mirra. "The AHEAD Act recognizes the lessons we’ve learned in Washington State to help students thrive in school and in life, and we are grateful for Senator Murray’s work to extend these best practices nationwide.”

“All children have the right to a decent education and we know that lack of access to safe, affordable housing is one of the biggest barriers to making that right a reality. The AHEAD Act would allow us to take our local partnerships with school districts to the next level to help our children thrive. The collaborative efforts will create security and stability for at-risk children; it will also address the likelihood of generational poverty with the provision of earlier interventions that promote educational achievement.” Said Roy Johnson, Executive Director of the Vancouver Housing Authority.

Specifically, the AHEAD Act would allow local school districts, in partnership with local housing authorities and other community-based organizations, to apply for federal grants to implement innovative projects to address and prevent child and family homelessness, promote education stability and academic achievement for students navigating homelessness and housing insecurity, and improve outcomes for children and youth from low-income families.

According to a report from Schoolhouse Washington, there are currently more than 40,000 students facing homelessness in Washington state and students dealing with housing insecurity face unique challenges that have been shown to negatively affect academic outcomes. As a former educator, Senator Murray has long worked to promote opportunity for all students, introducing an earlier version of the AHEAD Act in 2017 and spearheading efforts to secure millions of dollars in federal funding towards combatting youth homelessness in Washington state. Last week in Seattle, Senator Murray also heard from local education and housing leaders about the successful programs they have innovated to help combat youth homeless and improve education efforts for those facing housing insecurity.

The AHEAD Act is endorsed by numerous Washington state and national groups, including the King County Housing Authority, the Mockingbird Society, and SchoolHouse Connection.

Text of the legislation can be found HERE.

A one-pager on the bill can be found HERE.