HUD released Housing for Youth Aging out of Foster Care on May 27. The report inventories existing federal, state, and local housing programs available to youth aging out of foster care. The report also reviews existing research that shows that between 11% and 37% of youth aging out of foster care experience homelessness, and that between 25% and 50% experience other forms of housing instability.
The researchers identify four HUD programs that have the capacity to assist youth as they age out of the foster care system: public housing, vouchers, the Continuum of Care homelessness assistance programs, and the Family Unification Program (FUP). Four programs administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are also identified. In addition, 58 state and local programs are inventoried in three categories: single-site programs with supervision and supportive services; scattered-site programs with less supervision and support; and multiple housing types with varying levels of supervision and support.
A focus of the study is how public housing agencies (PHAs) use FUP, a special-purpose voucher program targeted to two populations. One population is youth exiting foster care who lack adequate housing, for whom FUP vouchers provide up to 18 months of rental subsidy and supportive services. The second population is families for whom the lack of adequate housing is a primary factor in the imminent placement of the family’s child or children in out-of-home care, or a delay in the discharge of the child or children to the family from out-of-home care. No new funds have been available for FUP since Congress appropriated $15 million in FY10.
Researchers surveyed 195 PHAs that administer FUP vouchers, and 70 public child welfare agencies (PCWAs) that partner with PHAs serving youth. According to the survey, 47% of PHAs served at least one youth aging out of foster care in the previous 18 months. However, less than one-third of FUP vouchers are distributed to youth. PHAs assert that most FUP vouchers are allocated to families because PWCAs make few youth referrals. One potential strategy to address this gap is to set aside vouchers specifically for youth. Another is to make a concerted effort to build communication and trust between PHAs and PWCAs.
More research is needed to determine the long-term effectiveness of FUP and other programs serving youth so that program developers and policymakers have data to make informed decisions on how to best serve youth aging out of foster care.
Housing for Youth Aging Out of Foster Care is at: http://bit.ly/1kdrMQl