Funder Spotlight: Strong Families Fund

In 2014 and 2015, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Kresge Foundation awarded grants to CSH to support our Strong Families Fund pilot. The Strong Families Fund (SFF) is a ten-year initiative designed to demonstrate and document the impact of Resident Services Coordination (RSC) on resident and property outcomes in affordable housing developments.

CSH is utilizing this funding to access Performance Incentive Payments to support Resident Services Coordination in affordable family developments, demonstrate beneficial outcomes of Resident Services Coordination for residents and properties, and build the case for sustainable funding for Resident Services Coordination from investors and mainstream systems and funders.

Affordable housing is the cornerstone of health and stability for low-income families. A number of low-income families also need to be connected to services in order to achieve stability and thrive. Typically, an array of services exists in the community but families lack knowledge of their existence or how to navigate the application process for benefits and service programs. Access to services can benefit the housing development itself and the surrounding community by averting crisis, improving tenant self-sufficiency and ability to pay their portion of the rent, and reducing school truancy and other negative social outcomes. Yet housing developers struggle to find sufficient sustainable funding to cover the cost of housing-based service coordination for families.

The primary goal of the Strong Families Fund is to demonstrate the value of Resident Services Coordination in improving outcomes across a range of areas of well-being for tenants in affordable housing developments. In addition, the SFF Initiative seeks to identify interested investors and potential resources to support Resident Services Coordination in future developments based on the results and outcomes achieved in the SFF demonstration.

All developments in the SFF initiative are planning and implementing RSC programming at sites. The type of programming currently underway includes: back to school programs, tutoring, food pantry deliveries and community gardening, child care linkages, and English as a second language classes. Partnerships with local providers include health centers, child care centers, community colleges, and arts programming.

With investments from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Kresge Foundation, the Strong Families Fund will address a critical need among affordable housing developers and property managers: sustaining and supporting the availability of service coordination for low-income families and residents.

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