housing action
Press Release: State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn to Keynote 22nd Annual Conference on Ending Homelessness in Yakima


CONTACT: Ben Miksch, (206) 240-8105,
For immediate release


On Wednesday at 12:00 pm, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn will deliver a keynote address at the 22nd Annual Conference on Ending Homelessness: The Changing Face of Homelessness about how housing insecurity and homelessness hampers educational attainment. 26,000 students  - one in every 40 pupils - experienced homelessness during the 2010-2011 school year, an increase of more than 19 percent from the 2009-2010 school year. This speech will be open to the press.

"Our state constitution says that education is our paramount duty," said Superintendent Dorn before the speech. "Students facing homelessness face additional barriers, but that means that we must provide additional support. It is our job to ensure that every student in Washington has every opportunity to succeed." The availability of safe, healthy, and affordable housing has a significant impact on school performance. Families who are homeless or facing housing insecurity are often forced to transfer their children from one school to another mid-year, which often leads to a significant setback on a student's performance. Housing insecurity can also lead to emotional and behavior issues, while unsafe or substandard housing can cause health issues that also interrupt a student's ability to focus on learning and succeeding.

Following Superintendent Dorn's address, the conversation will be continued by Michael Power, Manager of Education Programs for Tacoma Housing Authority, and Ann Allen, for ESD 105, the school district serving South Central Washington. Michael Power is responsible for the McCarver Elementary School Special Housing Program, an innovative approach to addressing the problems, mitigating the impacts, and supporting homeless students. Ann Allen provides trainings for school homeless liaisons, teachers, principals, superintendents, and parents around non-academic barriers to learning for students, with a special focus on homeless students. They will have an open discussion on homelessness and education, exploring issues such as mobility and its impact on achievement, the importance of partnerships between affordable housing and service providers and school districts, and the barriers that exist right now between homeless students and educational success. Afterwards they will take questions from the audience.

According to Rachael Myers, Executive Director of the Housing Alliance who will moderate the follow up conversation, "Even the best teachers and schools can't completely mitigate the damage done to a child's education by homelessness. Housing policy is education policy and if we care about education, we have to pay attention to where students go home to every night."

The Annual Conference on Ending Homeless, which is being organized by the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, brings together service providers, housing advocates, and people who are or have experienced homelessness from across Washington State in order to learn new skills, build community and partnerships, and exchange information and strategies on the fight to prevent and end homelessness. This year's conference will take place at the Yakima Convention Center from May 16 - 18, with more than 450 registered attendees choosing among 48 workshops on topics like "Homeless Veterans: Developing Responsive Services & Housing," and "Public Housing & Public Schools: A Partnership to Support Homeless Youth." Many courses are eligible for Continuing Education Credits from the Washington Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. Other special events include a movie screening of "Out on a Limb," on Wednesday night, and a downtown tour of Yakima homeless programs hosted by the Yakima County Department of Human Services on Friday afternoon.

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For more information or to arrange to attend any part of the conference, please contact Ben Miksch at (206) 240-8105 or at

The Washington Low Income Housing Alliance works to ensure that all Washington residents have the opportunity to live in safe, healthy, and affordable homes in thriving communities. We do this through advocacy, education and organizing. Our organizational members and individual supporters come from every community in Washington State.