8867394 sHighland Kids Initiative

The Role of Housing in Children’s and Family Well-Being
As the recession and high unemployment continue to grip our nation, the result has been an alarming rate of households facing homelessness. Here in Massachusetts, we have seen firsthand how the downturn in the economy has resulted in record numbers of families becoming homeless.

The effects of this high rate of families becoming homeless and then being forced to move from their communities are having a significant impact on their children’s education. The relationship between residential mobility and school performance has been identified as a greater source of concern by educators and school districts as more students and their families are falling into homelessness. Children of low-income families are at particular risk of school performance problems related to housing instability. Low-income families have higher rates of moving from one apartment to another than do middle and upper income families, and moves by these families are less likely to be for positive reasons. Often the reasons these families are forced to move are due to domestic violence, eviction, foreclosure, and during these uncertain economic times, more families have lost their employment or have had their hours reduced, making it impossible to maintain their housing.

At the beginning of the academic year 2009-2010, the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless partnered with the Lynn Public Schools, Lynn Housing Authority and the Department of Housing and Community Development to launch the Highland Kids Initiative with the goal of preventing students and their families from becoming homeless. Despite overwhelming evidence of the magnitude and damaging effect of student mobility, prior to this unique pilot partnership there have been no housing resources tied to education as a means of addressing this devastating trend.

Over a 48 month period, the Initiative will work with each of the families on an individual basis, offering critical housing support through housing subsidies that allows these low-income families to only pay 30% of their income towards the rent. This time limited subsidy, along with wraparound case management is what makes it possible for these families and their children to thrive.

To learn more about Highland Kids Initiative please contact Marisa McQuaid, Director of Programs at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 781-595-7570 x15.

WCVB TV highlighted the Highland Kids Initiative in the spring of 2010 and again in 2011.  On August 11th, 2011 WCVB Channel 5's Chronicle HD program highlighted the two families from the Highland Kids Initiative. Both families were on the verge of homelessness: one, political refugees from Africa; the second, struggling with the death of a child and financial challenges. Over the course of twelve months Chronicle documented their progress. To view the latest segment click here to the link.  

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