October 6, 2020

HUD: More Than 800 Former Foster Youth Are Paving Their Own Way with FYI Vouchers

HUD Secretary Carson marks Foster Youth to Independence initiative milestone

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson today traveled to Denver to mark that the Foster Youth to Independence (FYI) initiative has awarded 844 vouchers in the first year of the program to former foster youth at risk of homelessness. Secretary Carson held a roundtable discussion with voucher recipients and toured a recipient’s apartment.

Secretary Ben Carson hosts a roundtable discussion with Foster Youth to Independence (FYI) voucher recipients.
Secretary Ben Carson hosts a roundtable discussion with Foster Youth to Independence (FYI) voucher recipients.

View additional pictures via Secretary Carson’s Twitter page here.

“Since its launch, the Foster Youth to Independence Initiative has changed the lives of 844 young adults across 31 states by helping them secure a home of their own,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “Given the program’s success over the past year, we are pleased to announce today an expansion of the FYI initiative. This expansion will create new opportunities for communities to leverage this resource and empower the next generation to pave their own way.”

“Rarely do programs have an immediate and positive impact on the lives of so many,” said Assistant Secretary Hunter Kurtz. “This program did and continues to have impact by ensuring that young adults across the nation will have access to one of the most basic needs, a place to call home.”

Since the initiative was launched in June of 2019, 31 states and 91 Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) have received FYI funding, totaling over $6.8 million in funds to prevent or end homelessness among young adults under the age of 25 who are in, or have recently left, the foster care system without a home to go to. Since the first round of awards in October of 2019, the FYI program has expanded by 25 states.

Through a new notice made available today, HUD is announcing an expansion of the FYI initiative while also creating new opportunities for communities to leverage this resource. Specifically, the new notice makes several changes that HUD hopes will increase participation in the FYI Initiative, including:

  1. Open up the opportunity to request vouchers to every public housing agency (PHA) that administers an HCV program, include those PHAs that have a 90% utilization rate of their FUP program.
  2. Increase the maximum award to a maximum cap of 50 vouchers per fiscal year for those PHAs that have an FYI voucher utilization rate of 90% or greater.
  3. Recognize the importance of community partners by encouraging partnerships with state, local, philanthropic, or faith-based organizations as well as Continuum or Cares (CoCs).
  4. Allow PHAs to request funding on a rolling basis to the extent funding remains available.

The initiative uses the framework of the Family Unification Program (FUP), The primary goals of the program are:

  1. Address gaps in the availability of FUP for youth in communities that do not administer the FUP or do not have sufficient FUP resources to meet the needs to both unify child-welfare involved families and end homelessness for foster youth.
  2. Contribute to the goal of ending youth homelessness as outlined in Home, Together: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. Former foster youth are at high risk of experiencing homelessness.
  3. Set youth on a path to self-sufficiency by providing a suite of supportive services for the duration of a youth’s 36 months of assistance on the program.

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% of these young people experience homelessness within four years of leaving foster care and an even higher share are precariously housed. To be eligible for FYI funding, public housing authorities must:

View the One Year Anniversary video of the FYI program here.

View more FYI videos and testimonials on Secretary Carson’s Twitter here and on HUD’s website here.

This post was originally published here.