Foster Youth to Independence Initiative Housing Vouchers

Streamlining processes for foster youth to obtain federal housing vouchers to help them achieve housing stability.

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Who

Foster youth ages 18-24 who are experiencing or at risk for homelessness

Why

To help prevent foster youth from experiencing homelessness

Conditions of Systems Change

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Policy
Resource Flows
Power Dynamics
Practices
Relationships + Connections
Mental Models

The Challenge

Youth aging out of foster care are at high risk for experiencing homelessness during the transition to adulthood. As many as 25% of foster youth will experience homelessness within 4 years of aging out and a history of foster care correlates with experiencing homelessness at an earlier age and for a longer period of time. Of the 27,342 foster youth who shared their needs and experiences with TOU in 2020, 14.7% were experiencing homelessness.  

As a result of the efforts of ACTION Ohio and other child welfare advocates, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) established the Foster Youth to Independence (FYI) Initiative in 2019, providing tenant protection vouchers for 36 months of “on demand” rental assistance for foster youth who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness. In January 2021, HUD announced $20 million in new funding for FYI vouchers. But, the process for youth to obtain this resource is complicated and time consuming, requiring a formal agreement between local-level public housing and child welfare agencies.

The Action

Think of Us Senior Fellow, Jamole Callahan worked in partnership with state child welfare agencies and public housing authorities, the Children’s Bureau, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to streamline the processes for youth to obtain FYI vouchers and help them achieve housing stability. TOU leveraged knowledge of federal policy and systems to build relationships with local and state systems and take practical steps to directly support youth, including eligibility research, connecting them to their local housing authority, helping them complete applications, identifying fitting housing options, obtaining essential documents, three-way calling with relevant parties, and more, to improve access to services.

The Stats

  • $20 million in funding
    available nationwide
  • FYI vouchers provide up to
    36 months of rental assistance
  • 25% of foster youth
    will experience homelessness within 4 years of aging out
  • 14.7% of foster youth
    who shared their experiences with TOU
    in 2020 were experiencing homelessness

The Results

The outcome of TOU efforts included:

  • The development of 28 local housing programs 
  • Up to 1,400 FYI vouchers made available to foster youth
  • Access to approximately $10.5 million in rental assistance

Recent Updates:

Congress passed the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities (FSHO) amendments as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which allows for foster youth to receive up to an additional 24 months of voucher assistance, for a maximum of 60 months of voucher assistance.

Centering Lived Experience

TOU staff working on the project have lived experience in foster care.

Geographic Location

Nationwide, State-specific

Time Frame

January-March 2021


Budget

$60K

Philanthropic
Earned Revenue
Government Contract

Approach

Strategic
Opportunistic

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