‘FYI’ Initiative to offer housing vouchers to at-risk young people facing homelessness
U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson today announced a new initiative to target housing assistance to young people aging out of foster care and who are at extreme risk of experiencing homelessness. HUD’s new Foster Youth to Independence (FYI) Initiative will offer housing vouchers to local public housing authorities to prevent or end homelessness among young adults under the age of 25 who are, or have recently left, the foster care system without a home to go to. Read HUD’s notice.
Secretary Carson made the announcement at Journey House in Milwaukee, a local program that empowers families to move out of poverty by offering a variety of services, including youth development.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimates that more than 20,000 young people age out of foster care each year. The National Center for Housing and Child Welfare (NCHCW) estimates that approximately 25 percent of these young people experience homelessness within four years of leaving foster care and an even higher share are precariously housed.
“No young person who grows up in foster care should experience homelessness once they set out on their own,” said HUD Secretary Carson. “The foundation of a stable life is stable housing and this initiative will allow local housing, working child welfare agencies and homeless planners, to focus this housing assistance to those young people who need it most.”
“We applaud Secretary Carson and his team for working directly with current and former foster youth to design and implement FYI as a platform for economic success,” said Ruth White, National Center for Housing and Child Welfare. “It’s only fitting that a former pediatric neurosurgeon would find a way to graft housing and social service programs together to close the gaps through which all too many children fall into homelessness on their way to adulthood.”
HUD is offering tenant-protection vouchers to certain public housing authorities (many located in smaller communities and rural areas) that do not participate in HUD’s Family Unification Program. In addition, participating public housing authorities must:
- Administer a Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program;
- Enter into a partnership agreement with a Public Child Welfare Agency (PCWA);
- Accept young people referred by their partnering PCWA;
- Determine that the referred youth are eligible for HCV assistance.
HUD’s FYI Initiative is generating a positive reaction from members of Congress deeply engaged on the issue of foster care:
As a founding member of the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley said, “One of the biggest challenges facing older youth who age out of foster care is housing. This initiative will make it easier for former foster youth to access federal housing assistance so they can continue their education, get a job and have a good start as they transition into adulthood.”
Nebraska Congressman Don Bacon, co-chair of the House Caucus on Foster Youth, said, “As young people age out of the foster care system, most times they are left without resources and support as they transition to adulthood. This initiative will give foster youth who are at extreme risk of falling into homelessness access to stable housing. Any investment we make in these young persons can help them grow to be successful members of the community. Strengthening federal support to end youth homelessness, is not just an investment in foster youth but in society as a whole.”
Ohio Congressman Mike Turner added, “For years, I’ve been an advocate for addressing the housing needs of our foster care youth. I strongly support Secretary Carson’s commitment to addressing this issue, and I am continuing working on this issue legislatively to advance the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act. Right now, we have a situation of federally created homelessness as foster care youth age out of the system. Aging out of foster care should not mean aging into homelessness.”