By Margaret Stagmeier, TriStar

TriStar is honored to be one of the three finalists in the Atlanta Affordable Housing Preservation Challenge!

TriStar is working diligently on phase 2 of our submission for the challenge.  Since 2013, TriStar has studied the ecosystem around affordable housing for working families with household incomes at or below the poverty line.  From this study, we have developed an affordable preservation model that has been proven to impact low-performing schools in our region through offering stable, affordable housing, that fosters community building, improves education and wellness opportunities, and reduces transiency. The timing is in sync with the affordable housing and education crisis that continues to fester across generations of families.

We have been working on a case study at our Willow Branch Apartments in Clarkston where we have  rents affordable for families living at the poverty line ($24,600/year – or 50% AMI), a robust after-school education program, free summer camp, affordable health care (dental and primary care physician) in partnership with Oakhurst Federally Qualified Health Clinic, and gardening plots.  As a result of our model, Indian Creek Elementary has improved from the worst performing school in Georgia in 2013 (ranked 1064/1065 elementary schools) to ranked 79% (1005/1233 elementary schools).  We have learned that if the families living in our community have the opportunity to equalize their chance for success through higher education, healthy food options, basic healthcare, and eventual home ownership.

We are pleased to announce that Indian Creek Elementary was recently recognized by the 2016 Single Statewide Accountability System as one of 14 schools in Dekalb County “that have exhibited high student performance or academic growth”.  Indian Creek Elementary received the “platinum growth” recognition, or in the 99% compared to other schools in the state.  The school was featured in an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on February 1, 2017.

As part of the challenge, we are developing tools that will educate our community and help other landlords in our region learn and effectively engage in an interactive affordable housing, education and healthcare model, and track outcomes.

One of the tools that we are studying is a technology platform that will allow landlords to track metrics and measure outcomes associated with on-site wrap-around services for their residents including, Georgia Milestone test scores, healthcare and gardening outcomes.  We have been looking for technology partners and are in the initial stages with TechBridge to develop a Statement of Work to determine the feasibility and a cost estimate for software that is scalable for other landlords.   A second tool we are using is our marketing video that interviews stakeholders in the model.  We are working with Event Stream to update the video and fine tune the interconnectivity between housing and education to help educate our ecosystem.