Five years ago, Chrystal Olson was on drugs. She was tired of dragging her children along in that lifestyle in Tacoma, Washington.
Today, Olson, 36, is in the PTA at McCarver Elementary School in Tacoma. She has a job, working as a cashier at Kmart. She completed her GED last year and will go to Tacoma Community College in the spring to finish her degree.
Recently, we caught up with Kollin Min, senior program officer at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the Pacific Northwest region. We wanted to find out how his division, and the Gates Foundation as a whole, is working on housing, and how better linking this issue to education could raise student achievement, both in the Pacific Northwest, and possibly, across the nation.
Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, has introduced a bill in Olympia that attempts to replicate a program at a Tacoma elementary school that links housing with education.
The Homeless Student Stability Act (HSSA) would provide funding and staff for schools to support homeless students and their families with housing near the school. The bill calls for staff to liaison between the schools and families, and it provides grants to pay for housing nearby.