Housing Partnerships
Published: March 31, 2020

Housing partnerships are the sustained working relationships between education and housing providers to connect and align resources and other supports.

Often, housing and education services are not coordinated, and require students and families to navigate multiple complex systems to meet their unique needs.

School and housing systems need to work together to better serve students and families experiencing homelessness. Additionally, housing and education providers should work collaboratively to access resources, such as Coordinated Entry and Diversion techniques, to efficiently serve more homeless populations.

(Note: Acronyms following recommendations indicate sources for those recommendations. See the Sources Key for details.)

Goal 1:

All schools and districts have robust, ongoing partnerships with their local homeless housing system, including Coordinated Entry, and are easily able to refer students and families to housing resources. 

Recommendations & Strategies
  1. Schools and districts should develop a connection with Coordinated Entry to better facilitate referring students and families to housing. All staff designated as the building point of contact should partner with the local Coordinated Entry system. (PE, LE)
    • Strategy 1: District-level McKinney-Vento liaisons should coordinate a formal relationship with Coordinated Entry staff and make referrals to housing resources for eligible students and families. Formal relationships (e.g., memoranda of understanding or agreement) should include school districts and the school-level building point of contact. Note: Students living doubled-up are not prioritized for housing resources under the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. *See Doubled-up Guidance topic area for further information.
    • Strategy 2: Request restricted access to Homeless Management Information System data from local government.
  2. Have common written referral processes, tools, and protocols that are used by both the school system and Coordinated Entry. (PE, LE)
  3. School-level staff should provide warm hand-offs (in other words, smooth, personal transfer of information on homeless students and their families) to Coordinated Entry to ensure each student’s and family’s unique needs are being met. (PE, LE)

Goal 2

Schools partner with other community organizations and public agencies (e.g., affordable housing providers, public housing authorities) to provide housing assistance for students and families experiencing homelessness. 

  1. Create partnerships with housing partners, including landlord liaisons and public housing authorities, that provide housing services to help McKinney-Vento eligible students access shared or independent living opportunities. (PE, MM)

Goal 3

School staff are equipped to provide Diversion and have access to flexible financial assistance for students and families experiencing homelessness.  

Recommendations & Strategies
  1. Seek training in Diversion techniques to identify housing solutions with families. Request flexible funding to support the needs of families identified through Diversion. (PE, LE, MM)
    • Strategy 1: Use targeted funding to help stabilize immediate housing needs, such as providing hotel vouchers for students and families transitioning out of homelessness, or financial assistance with move-in costs (e.g., first/last month’s rent, security deposit, or rental application fee).
  2. School districts and staff should be aware of a student’s or family’s housing status within the restrictions set forth under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. This will help staff locate and provide a list of relevant resources in their geographic area for those students and families.

Goal 4

School staff advocate and raise awareness for broader community homelessness strategies at the local level.

  1. Have school representation on the local Continuum of Care, other housing committees, and other work groups that advocate for students and families experiencing homelessness, including those living doubled-up. (PE)
  2. Raise awareness about how the lack of affordable housing negatively impacts students and their families. (PE, LE)
  3. Advocate for additional safe shelters, low-income housing, and host homes, especially those tailored to meet the needs of unaccompanied youth and families experiencing homelessness. (PE, LE)

Sources Key

Professional Expertise
Lived Expertise
Mixed-methods Research
Sources include:
Building Changes/Schoolhouse Washington staff; school and district staff interviewed through Schoolhouse Washington-funded projects and the Students of Color project
Students and families of color experiencing homelessness interviewed through the Students of Color project
Beating the Odds quantitative and qualitative analysis showing association between a practice and better-than-predicted outcomes