Inclusive Economy Lab Families in Transition

Nearly 1 in 20 Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students experience homelessness each year, living either in shelters, on the street, or doubled up with friends or family. CPS identified roughly 18,000 students as living in a temporary living situation in the 2016-17 school year. Experiencing homelessness has several negative impacts on a child’s development. Children who have spent time in a shelter or living on the street are more likely to face acute and chronic health problems, are more likely to struggle socially and emotionally, and are twice as likely to drop out of school as other children with stable housing.

As part of a collaborative effort led by the Mayor’s Office, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, the Department of Family and Support Services, and the Corporation for Supportive Housing, funding from the City’s Shared Housing Ordinance (the “Airbnb tax”) is providing permanent housing with additional services to 100 families of CPS students experiencing homelessness. Known as the Families in Transition (FIT) program, Urban Labs is evaluating this promising approach to understand its effects on students’ academic achievements and behavior, as well as their families’ housing stability. We hope the findings of this study will provide rigorous evidence of an effective approach to better serve some of our most vulnerable students and help inform school district practices in Chicago and nationwide.

The Inclusive Economy Lab is grateful to the Chicago Community Trust and the UChicago Women’s Board for their generous support of this evaluation.