Sunday, September 15, 2019
Young people enter our foster care system for many different reasons, but too many share a common story once they age out: They don’t have a stable home of their own.
One of our recent “Humans of HUD” spotlights here at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development features Adora, a young lady who was just a teenager when her mother died and her father returned to his home country. For Adora and her siblings, America was the only home they knew. But without their parents, they entered the foster care system and were shuffled from place to place. Imagine growing older and aging out of foster care, alone, without a home or any of the support young people need to set out on their own path.
Each year, there are more than 20,000 young people with stories like Adora’s who age out of foster care. Shockingly, the National Center for Housing and Child Welfare estimates that 25% of these young people will experience homelessness within four years.
Recently, it was my personal and professional point of pride to announce a brand new initiative: Foster Youth to Independence, a collaborative effort to combat homelessness among at-risk youth by targeting housing assistance to young people leaving foster care. HUD’s new program allows local public housing authorities to request tenant protection vouchers for young adults who have recently left foster care without a home to go to.
It is complementary to FUP, our Family Unification Program, and has three main goals:
▪ It will address the lack of availability of housing vouchers to young people in communities without access to FUP resources.
▪ It will prioritize resources to our nation’s at-risk youth. Currently, young people encounter significant barriers to accessing affordable housing resources, including the FUP program. For example, local welfare authorities often prioritize families at risk of homelessness over single, young adults. This contributes to the fact that early-age populations make up only about 5% of FUP housing voucher recipients.
▪ This program will further HUD’s goal of ending homelessness. No person should experience homelessness. Not only will this initiative provide foster youth with housing, but it will also provide them with the tools they need to become self-sufficient through supportive services they can access for up to three years.
Stable housing lays the foundation for a stable family and, in turn, a stable life. This program will work with local authorities to direct housing assistance to the young people who need it most. For too long, foster youth have been forgotten when it comes to affordable housing. HUD is committed to changing that.
I am proud of HUD’s many efforts to help set forgotten Americans onto a path to self-sufficiency. No matter the obstacles, no matter how difficult the beginnings, anyone can rise to their potential in the land of the free. And at HUD, we are committed to making that dream a reality for all of America’s vulnerable — our young people included.
~ Ben Carson is secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Friday, September 6, 2019
Link to more photos.
DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Congressman Mike Turner announced new legislation Friday that aims to keep foster kids off the streets.
The new program, which will be run by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), will provide housing vouchers to teens aging out of the foster care system.
“Foster care youth need to be provided assistance and their care is critical,” said Rep. Turner. “We’re very excited about this response from HUD because it also represents the administration will be having support for this bill as it goes forward, and will have an opportunity on a demonstration project to see real results of what can happen when we ensure the safety of foster youth.”
He went on to say he believes the bill will have bipartisan support.
Link to news article with video.
Sunday, August 25, 2019
|Photo taken by Lisa Dickson|
Friday, July 26, 2019
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What is the Foster Youth Independence Program (FYI)?
Since 2013, the FSHO Coalition, led by ACTION Ohio, has worked in partnership with the National Center for Housing and Child Welfare (NCHCW), elected officials including foster youth champions, Reps. Turner and Bass, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to study how to knit existing federal programs together to eliminate the gaps through which foster youth fall into homelessness.
The FSHO Coalition discovered that the best way to eliminate gaps is to synchronize existing programs such as HUD’s Family Unification Program (FUP), with the predictable nature of emancipation (the date a young person leaves state custody). FYI allows all local Public Housing Authorities to provide an “on demand” FUP voucher that is timed with a young person’s emancipation from foster care. In this way, existing federal resources, can be knitted together and used as a platform for economic success.
What is the Family Unification Program?
HUD’s Family Unification Program (FUP) is the only national housing program aimed at preventing family separation due to homelessness and easing the transition to adulthood for aging-out youth. HUD provides Housing Choice Vouchers (“Section 8”) to local public housing authorities (PHAs) who apply to administer the program. These PHAs are then required to work in partnership with the local public child welfare agency to identify youth and families to refer to the program. FUP has existed since 1990 for families and youth were added as an eligible population in 2000. Unlike families, young people participating in FUP receive vouchers that are time-limited to three years.
The impact of this relatively small program is extraordinary. Each year more than 75,000 children live in safe, affordable housing and avoid out-of-home placement and homelessness due to FUP. Since youth were added in the year 2000, more than 5,000 young people have received housing vouchers and their own, independent apartment upon leaving foster care.
How does FYI change FUP for youth?
Currently, FUP vouchers for youth come from an unpredictable pool of funding and are only administered by certain PHAs. FYI will address this challenge in two ways. It will provide a method for national consistency by allowing all PHAs to administer FUP. FYI will also make it possible to issue youth vouchers on demand, by changing the funding source to a flexible but little-known account at HUD called the Tenant Protection Account. Vouchers (TPVs) from this account can be issued “on demand” at the discretion of the HUD Secretary. To learn more about TPVs visit www. nchcw.org.
Who is eligible?
- The PCWA will certify that the youth is at least 18 years old and not more than 24 years old (has not reached his/her 25th birthday), that he/she left foster care at age 16 or older or will leave foster care within 90 days, in accordance with a transition plan, and is homeless or at risk of homelessness.
- Keep in mind that a housing choice voucher requires that an individual sign a legal document called a lease with a private landlord.
- Thus, the FYI Coalition recommends and research by the University of Denver indicates that young people who are participating in extended foster care or Chafee Independent Living Services, are close to reaching their 21st birthday, and who participate in supervised independent living placements are the best candidates for referral.
How does a child welfare agency make a referral?
- First, all public child welfare agencies (PCWAs) should establish a point of contact at their local PHA and begin to develop a relationship with their peer at that organization.
- Next, PCWAs use a variety of independent living funding sources to prepare young people who are likely to reach adulthood in state care.
- As young people move along this continuum of services, PCWA staff should monitor if a young person is at risk of homelessness and interested in the stability of renting their own apartment.
- If it is the case that a young person will not be able to afford to rent an apartment without a government subsidy then, the PCWA staff will notify their peer at the local PHA about three to six months prior to emancipation (in most states this is just before age 21) that the young person is eligible for and interested in a FUP voucher.
- PCWAs should also begin to forecast and predict how many young people will need vouchers within their caseload so that they can request vouchers in batches from their local PHA.
D.) How many young people will this program serve annually?
- The National Youth in Transition Database report indicates that 20% of 19-year-old alumni (1,576) and 28% of 21-year-old alumni (1,991) experience homelessness.
- Given these figures, the FSHO Coalition estimates that approximately 2,000 youth people who are leaving foster care could benefit from FYI/FUP for youth.
- PCWAs must begin to work with their local homeless service providers and identify young people who can be brought back into the fold of the public child welfare system and provided with appropriate services to prepare for access to independent apartments through FYI/FUP.
Tuesday, July 23, 2019
Friday, June 28, 2019
|Click to enlarge photo|
Link to more photos.
We were honored to participate in our second meeting with the Ohio Medicaid Director's Office.
- Vice President Samantha Dillon of the OHIO Youth Advisory Board
- Lisa Dickson of ACTION Ohio and the OHIO Youth Advisory Board
- Nicole Chinn of ACTION Ohio and the CSCC Scholar Network
- Cloe Cooper, Katrina de los Santos and Brett Welsch of the CSCC Scholar Network
- Sonja Nelson, Alex Romstedt, Drew May and Bethany Hahn of CMHA
Our meeting focused on:
- Ohio Medicaid's continued efforts and dedication to overcome access barriers for foster care youth and alumni
- Concerns about a specific residential facility
- Updates regarding our work to map out a service coordination model and the division of tasks between Service Coordinator and the two RA/Peer Advisors for Scholar House 3