Tacoma program for families helps keep kids in school

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by ZAHID ARAB / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on May 19, 2013 at 6:45 PM

Updated Sunday, May 19 at 7:00 PM

The Tacoma Housing Authority is offering homeless families a cheap place to stay if parents keep their kids in school. 

The agency’s five year program offers 50 families $25 a month rent with housing costs increasing 20 percent each year.

In exchange, parents agree to be active in their child’s education, take parenting classes, attend school meetings and make sure their student is never late or absent from school.

Men May was laid off from his jobs nearly 2 years ago. After losing his home to foreclosure, May’s wife and five kids struggled to survive on the streets.

“We couldn’t buy clothes, we couldn’t buy food, we had to go shelter to shelter,” said May.

May’s son Anthonee goes to McCarver Elementary School where nine out of ten students come from poverty, creating a student turnover rate of 179%.

“That means students are leaving, others are coming in, those are leaving, other students are coming in. The teachers can’t teach affectively, administrators can’t plan for the school and it just perpetuates,” said Michael Power, Educational Programs Manager.

“I was the only one that could do the science project,” said Anthonee May.

May and the other kids in the program have seen their grades improve. With finding food and shelter no longer a worry, they finally have stability.

“It’s everything. We see students thrive when that’s going on,” said Scott Rich, principal.

Men and his wife both have jobs and look forward to being self-sufficient once again.

“Life has changed a lot, tremendously,” said May.

Tacoma’s program is getting national attention as a way to fix inner city schools and help homeless families become self-sufficient.

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