The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on January 24, 2022, published a notice in the Federal Register implementing and providing guidance on the provisions of the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities (FSHO) amendments as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. FSHO serves to help reduce the incidence of homelessness among former foster youth by providing them with housing assistance for a more extended period to focus on advancing their education, improving their career and employment prospects, and building financial security.
The FSHO amends the Family Unification Program (FUP) under Section 8 of the U.S. Housing Act to increase the amount of time that youth may receive a FUP voucher. Under FSHO, former foster youth will be able to receive up to an additional 24 months of voucher assistance, for a maximum of 60 months of voucher assistance. This service extension is also available to youth receiving a Foster Youth to Independence (FYI) voucher.
“FSHO is unique in that it was conceived and drafted by foster youth and former foster youth who truly understand the challenges of aging out of foster care and what support towards an independent and successful future should look like,” said Danielle Bastarache, HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Housing and Voucher Programs. “Every person, especially every young person, deserves the inherent security of a safe and stable home. Our Department continues to be committed to expanding assistance to public housing agencies across the country so that they can support more individuals in their future success.”
FSHO applies to FUP/FYI youth who first leased or leases a unit after the date of the enactment of the 2021 Appropriations Act (i.e., December 27, 2020). The FSHO makes this extension of assistance available to youth participating in a Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program. If the Public Housing Authority (PHA) does not have an FSS program or the PHA has an FSS program in which the youth has been unable to enroll, the youth may receive an extension of assistance if they engaged in education, workforce, or employment activities for at least 9-months out of the 12 months preceding the extension. The FSHO will provide limited exceptions for youth whose personal circumstances make them unable to engage in such activities. Exceptions include:
- The FUP/FYI youth is a parent or other household member responsible for the care of a dependent child under the age of 6 or the care of an incapacitated person;
- The FUP/FYI youth is a person who is regularly and actively participating in a drug addiction or alcohol treatment and rehabilitation program;
- The FUP/FYI youth is a person who is incapable of complying with the requirement to participate in a Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program or engage in education, workforce development, or employment activities, as applicable, due to a documented medical condition.
The enactment of these amendments recognizes the critical role that stable housing plays in helping former foster youth transition to independence and self-sufficiency.
This notice is part of HUD’s continued commitment to Foster Youth. In December, HUD announced $1 million in grants to public housing agencies (PHAs) across the country to provide housing assistance to youth who are aging out of foster care and are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Preceding these announcements, HUD’s Foster Youth to Independence team was awarded a 2021 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals (Sammies) in the fall of 2021. The Department is dedicated to assisting communities in ensuring that every person in the nation has access to safe, affordable, and stable housing so that they can equitably thrive.