Article: To Build the Future, Housing Authorities, Schools Join Forces
To Build the Future, Housing Authorities, Schools Join Forces
by Liz Duffrin
A growing number of public housing authorities are partnering with local schools to improve community outcomes for young children, because when children do better, communities do too.
Ten years ago, Preston Prince, the executive director of Fresno Housing Authority, was seated around the conference table with other community agencies at the first meeting of an early childhood initiative. The initiative’s head asked each agency in turn what it was doing to raise reading achievement, the goal of a regional campaign.
“When it came to me I said, ‘Nothing, we’re a housing authority,’” Prince recalled.
That meeting changed his outlook. Today, the Fresno Housing Authority is one of a growing number of public housing authorities and other affordable housing providers across the country that are forging partnerships with school districts, afterschool providers, health care providers, and other service agencies to better support the educational success of their youngest tenants.
Under Prince’s leadership, that involvement has included hosting afterschool programs and school events at housing authority properties, supporting student health initiatives, and in 2016, opening an early learning center in partnership with Fresno Unified School District.
The housing authority’s mission, according to Executive Director Preston Prince, is to create vibrant communities. “Education is an important piece of that.”
The housing authority’s mission, Prince said, is to create vibrant communities. “Education is an important piece of that,” he explained. “Children’s school success is linked to their long-term health, safety, economic well-being, and level of civic engagement.”
More of a child’s day is spent at home and in the community than at school, Prince added. “If we want kids to be successful at school, we have the responsibility to help them at home.”