Tacoma Housing Authority Evaluation Services and Strategic Planning
Tacoma, WA / 2022
Project completed while at BERK Consulting
From 2018 to 2022, Vivien supported the Tacoma Housing Authority in evaluating their innovations to empower clients of their housing services, including their Children’s Savings Account Program and the College Housing Assistance Program. The evaluation services, including facilitating conversations about program models, desired outcomes, targets, and available data to develop an evaluation approach. Vivien then implemented the evaluations which were both mixed methods. Subsequently Vivien and her team at BERK were hired to engage in a departmental strategic planning process for the Client Supports and Empowerment department which housed the education projects. This effort included developing outcomes and indicators which both aligned with the higher-level role of the Tacoma Housing Authority in the community, and the multifaceted needs of clients.
EVALUATION & STRATEGIC PLANNING
The projects with the Tacoma Housing Authority were a prime example of the inextricable link between evaluation and strategic planning. The initial engagement was to evaluate the Children’s Savings Account. At a programmatic level, it was simple to assess against output metrics, such as numbers of accounts created and the amount of funds deposited. However, these data were insufficient to answer higher level questions, such as whether this was the best use of staff time and resources, and whether this strategy was the best way to positively impact educational outcomes for children living in housing authority residences. What the most impactful role housing authorities can have in educational outcomes was a crucial strategic question unearthed during the program evaluation. With more clear agreed-upon strategic goals for the entire Client Supports and Empowerment department, program evaluations can be more impactful in aligning resources for an organization.