Foster care provides children in need with vital resources aimed to ensure that no matter their background, they will be able to grow into self-sufficient, productive adults. Among these resources are the support structure of a family unit and the stability of a safe, dependable home. Sadly, many children age out of the foster care program without the resources to prevent them from becoming homeless soon thereafter. The National Center for Housing and Child Welfare estimates that 25% of children who age out of foster care will experience homelessness within four years.
In March of 2019, Housing Secretary Ben Carson met with members of ACTION Ohio, who partnered with the National Center for Housing and Child Welfare and presented him with initial proposals to solve the foster youth homelessness crisis. Just four months later, the Secretary announced to the public the Foster Youth Independence (FYI) Initiative, which allows public housing authorities to request Tenant Protection Vouchers for young adults who have recently left foster care and have nowhere to live.
This past July, Secretary Carson joined voucher recipients and Pittsburgh-area leaders in commemorating the first anniversary of the FYI Initiative. To date, the FYI Initiative has provided more than $6.8 million through 844 vouchers in 31 states to young individuals who have left or are about to leave the foster care system.
Among those helped is Kacie, a New Yorker whose mother died when she was 13 years old. At age 16, Kacie ran away from home to escape abuse and alcoholism. She was soon placed in a foster home.
When she turned 18, Kacie left foster care and worked with her caseworker and the local housing authority to secure a Foster Youth to Independence voucher. Kacie is now happily housed and is working to become an X-ray technician.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development is proud of Foster Youth to Independence Initiative’s role in helping young individuals achieve self-sufficiency by requiring communities to provide supportive services for at least 36 months, and in reaching the goal of ending youth homelessness as outlined in the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness’s “Home, Together” plan.
This past year of the FYI Initiative has shown us the best in what public housing has to offer to the American people, but it has also been a reminder of how many more there are yet to help. With more education and outreach, we are certain that the Initiative will, in the years to come, play an even more critical role in placing young individuals at risk of homelessness into safe, dependable homes.