A Plea for Adequate Housing for Transitioning Foster Youth and Alumni
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Many thanks to Representative Mike Turner, and to his legislative aide Dan Hare,
As foster care youth and alumni, we urge federal legislators to support the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act. This bill is youth-driven in every sense, because the only reason it exists is that current and former foster youth volunteered their time for six years in a row to travel to DC and educate federal decision-makers about the Foster Care to Homeless Pipeline.
It makes no sense for our nation to be able to so clearly identify and anticipate this need, and not to proactively address it. For our population, the need for housing supports when we age out of foster care is entirely predictable. You know who we are, where we are, and at what date we will transition from the foster care system to adulthood.
This nation doesn’t act upon the anticipation of foster youth homelessness until it’s too late. Foster care youth and alumni deserve equal opportunities like our peers in society. Foster youth should have a system to fall back on. Finding housing during this time of transition is difficult, due to lack of a support system, lack of financial stability, and limited housing options. Even if we find initial housing, it can be difficult to maintain adequate funding and safe living conditions.
Not caring about this need comes with a price tag, and the biggest cost is missed opportunities. Lack of adequate transitional housing for foster youth is detrimental to our mental health, safety and self-sufficiency. When foster care youth chronically worried about shelter, food and safety, this can undermine our capacity to grow, and keep us in arrested development. Living in day-today “survival mode undermines our chances of achieving our goals for the future. It increases the risk that we will become chronically homeless in the future.
If our nation truly cares about ending youth homelessness, then our situation as foster youth is the very easiest situation in the nation to address - and this bill offers a clear way to address it. It is bipartisan, cost-neutral and relies on existing resources. If we assist in ending the Foster Care to Homelessness Pipeline, then we can help mold self-sufficient and contributing members of society.
We, in turn, pledge to help with efforts to help other homeless youth who do not come from our situation. Our firsthand experience has made us passionate about improving outcomes for foster youth, because we know what it’s like to have literally no one to rely on. If you can address the needs of our population, which are entirely predictable and can be proactively addressed, that will free up future funding to assist other young people in need.
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