While PHAs and schools serve very different functions, they both play critical roles in creating communities in which children and families can thrive. PHAs that provide supportive housing to families can work with schools to make sure homeless students are fulfilling their right to attend the school of their choice. Additionally, schools can be essential partners in identifying and referring families that need housing assistance to PHAs.
Students who are homeless are entitled, according to Federal law, to the same free, appropriate public education as provided to children and youth who are not homeless. Even after students who are homeless move into permanent housing, they can continue attending their school of origin until the end of any academic year. If requested, the school district must provide transportation assistance to and from students’ schools of origin. Students who are homeless also have the right to enroll in any public school that students living in the same area are eligible to attend. For more information on the rights of homeless students click here.
The Department of Education’s McKinney-Vento Act requires each school district to have an assigned homeless liaison. PHA staff, or the partner organizations they contract with to provide services, can work with these homeless liaisons to ensure that children living in PHA owned or subsidized housing are enrolled in and attending school.
Schools can also serve as the frontline in identifying families experiencing a housing crisis that are in need of support. School teachers, guidance counselors, cafeteria staff, and homeless liaisons can identify children who are homeless or living in unstable situations—including hotels, motels, or doubled up with other family members or friends—and refer these families to the PHA for housing assistance.
PHAs can also establish preferences for families with homeless children enrolled in local schools and partner with service agencies to further assist these families.
Go to the next section to learn about partnering with health centers.