The Minnesota Housing Finance Agency has awarded Wilder Foundation a grant of $875,000 to support 50 families with school-aged children living in the Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood. This funding is part of an initiative to improve school attendance by providing housing stability and thereby allowing children to attend the same school without interruption.
The 2013 Minnesota Legislature approved $2 million for the Rental Assistance for Highly Mobile Students Initiative in the 2014-2015 biennium. The initiative will provide short-term rental assistance and supportive services for families who experience homelessness or have a history of moving frequently. Other grantees include Project For Pride In Living, which will serve families in the Minneapolis Northside Achievement Zone and Clay County Housing and Redevelopment Authority to serve families in the Moorhead area. Measures of performance will include housing stability and increased school attendance.
Wilder's Family Supportive Housing Services will administer rental subsidies and Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood Community Navigators will offer a variety of support services to the identified families. "Some of these children have been moved in and out of several schools within a single year—others miss weeks at a time because they don't have a place to live," says Nona Ferguson, Director of Wilder's Family Supportive Housing Services. "This initiative will give children the stability they need to reach their full potential."
Muneer Karcher-Ramos, Director of the Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood, adds "we are proud to collaborate with Wilder Programs, the partner schools, Frogtown Rondo Home Fund, and many other partners to make this funding available to families seeking stability. It shows that we can make a bigger impact when we work together for the benefit of the community."
Funding for the Highly Mobile Students Initiative was made possible through an increase of $33 million dollars for housing and homeless services in Minnesota. The Homes for All Coalition, of which Wilder was a partner organization, advocated for these funds during the 2013 legislative session. The additional funding represents an overall increase of 36% for housing and homeless state funding compared to the last biennium.