The Trump administration has updated a program for former foster youth to enable far more public housing associations to participate.
Per a notice issued yesterday, any public housing agency that offers housing choice vouchers can participate in the Foster Youth to Independence Initiative, or FYI, a program started in the summer of 2019 to connect young adults aging out of foster care with housing stability as they leave the system. Previous rules for the initiative limited participation to only the 1,900 housing agencies that had not already issued vouchers under the family unification program, which precluded about 1,400 other agencies in the country.
About 20,000 foster youth leave foster care into adulthood every year, according to federal statistics. Nearly every state has extended foster care to include young adults up to the age of 21, but many youth still struggle to find a stable, affordable place to live once they age out.
Under FYI, child welfare agencies can begin planning to transition a youth to supportive housing funded through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) vouchers, complemented by self-sufficiency supports offered by the agency.
A former foster youth is eligible for the initiative from age 18 to 24. Once he or she moves on to other housing, the voucher will recycle back for use with another foster youth.
There has already been $10 million released for FYI, and another $10 million will be available this November. An average voucher for one youth will run about $7,500. Since the initiative was announced, 844 young adults from 31 states have received vouchers, according to HUD.
The change announced this week should take homelessness off the table for any youth leaving care, said Ruth Anne White, who worked with a group of current and former foster youth to craft and pitch the idea for Foster Youth to Independence to HUD.
“There is no excuse for a child welfare agency not to add FYI into the mix of housing options they discuss with youth who are preparing for the transition to independence in adulthood,” White said, in an email. “The only reason it won’t function that way is because it is ignored and not folded into the child welfare portfolio.”