Like so many other places, New Haven is a city of haves and have-nots. The residents at Elm City Communities/Housing Authority of New Haven are so many of the have-nots — people who have been left behind by decades of white flight, disinvestment, and a fractured and transitional economy. These inequities were the genesis of the Elm City Communities (ECC) Believes Initiative.
Elm City Communities Believes Initiative
ECC Believes was launched with the simple mission of providing educational supports to students and families living in ECC properties. To start, housing authority staff initiated a citywide outreach campaign to find community partners to provide onsite programming for youth residents and explore creative ways to share resources and grant opportunities. ECC first entered Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with several New Haven public schools. The MOUs were critical tools for ECC to access data about student performance, attendance and truancy, and helped inform data-driven programming. Beyond the school system, ECC staff sought meaningful collaboration with local partners that went further than simply promoting programs to residents. ECC encouraged local partners to hold classes on-site and organized additional regular programming with external organizations.
Through the development of community collaborations, ECC Believes offers an array of programs and services addressing:
While partnerships may differ, they share the common goal of bringing expanded services to residents and supporting learning and academic opportunities for students and their families.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ECC Believes Initiative adopted a more holistic wraparound approach to fill the gaps left by schools and other partner organizations that either shut down or significantly decreased operations.