John Burton Advocates for Youth has put together a $1.2 million fund to help raise California’s capacity to house thousands of former foster youth at risk of experiencing homelessness.
“We have identified clear opportunities to better meet the needs of young people,” said Amy Lemley, executive director of the organization, which is commonly referred to as JBay. “With this grant, we can prevent homelessness and keep young people on track to finish school, secure good jobs and have the same quality of life we want for ourselves and our children.”
JBay’s 2021 report on housing for former foster youth found that the state needs about 3,428 beds annually to provide enough housing for them, but currently has the capacity to provide just 60% of those beds. There were 763 youth on waiting lists for housing support as of June 2021, the report found; more than half of them lived in three counties (Kern, Los Angeles, Santa Clara).
The goal is to increase the state’s capacity by working with providers to access several federal and local funding streams to provide more housing, including Transitional Housing Program-Plus (THP-Plus), Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention, Project Homekey and Foster Youth to Independence vouchers.
JBay is starting to make planning grants in connection with the venture. The first two went to the Bill Wilson Center in Santa Clara County and First Place for Youth in the Bay Area. Lemley said the organization expects to make another 10 planning grants, with four in Los Angeles County and six to groups in the Central Valley and Northern California.
On the advocacy front, JBay is pushing for a $23.5 million extension of THP-Plus, and for the state to make at least the youth-focused part of the state’s Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention fund permanent.
The primary funder for the project is the Walter S. Johnson Foundation, with additional contributions from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Tipping Point Community and the Doheny Foundation.
The Walter S. Johnson Foundation and Conrad N. Hilton Foundation are financial supporters of Fostering Media Connections. The foundations played no role in our decision to publish this article, per our editorial independence policy.