Nadeau Introduces Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Amendment Act of 2022

Washington -Today, along with my colleagues Janeese Lewis George, Brooke Pinto, Christina Henderson, Robert White, and Mary Cheh, I am introducing the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Amendment Act of 2022.  This legislation has the potential to end homelessness for eligible youth aging out of foster care by taking advantage of the Family Unification Program Housing Choice Vouchers already available to the District through the Foster Youth to Independence Initiative.

Since October 1, 2020, only one person aging out of foster care in the District has reported anticipating living in their own apartment after aging out. And youth aging out in the District are just as likely to be homeless immediately upon leaving care as they are to be living on their own. These are the outcomes of a child welfare system that, rather than preparing youth to live independently, often refers them into the homelessness Continuum of Care.

That does not have to be the case.  Under the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (“HUD”) Foster Youth to Independence Initiative (“FYI”), public housing authorities can draw down non-competitive Family Unification Program (“FUP”) Housing Choice Vouchers for youth leaving care who are at risk of homelessness on an as needed basis once they use up 90 percent of their FUP allocations. And under the recent Fostering Stable Housing Opportunity amendments, youth who participate in HUD’s Family Self-Sufficiency program are eligible for five years of federal housing support.

In order for the District of Columbia Housing Authority (“DCHA”) to provide that support, however, DHCA needs administrative backing from the Child and Family Services Agency (“CFSA”). Under FYI, local child welfare agencies must, among other things, identify potentially eligible youth within their caseloads, certify particular details about their child welfare histories to public housing authorities, and commit to providing supportive services for the duration of youths’ voucher eligibility. If CFSA were to do those things, it could collaborate with DCHA to substantially reduce, if not eliminate, homelessness for youth prepared to live on their own after aging out of care.

This legislation requires CFSA to do its part to make FYI vouchers a reality—and the norm—for youth leaving care. The Agency would be required to do everything in its power, including a list of enumerated actions taken directly from the HUD Notice establishing FYI, to secure FYI vouchers for eligible older youth. The bill does not require the Agency to pursue vouchers for youth who, perhaps because of disability, are unprepared to live on their own, youth who will be living in military housing or college dormitories, or youth who otherwise do not require “assistance securing a primary residence for independent living.” The bill narrowly prescribes a narrow course of conduct for a single agency. The effects of that conduct on the District’s most vulnerable youth, however, could be massive.

Together with the Preserving Our Kids’ Equity Through Trusts Amendment Act of 2022, also known as the “POKETT Act,” which I introduced last month, this legislation would create one of the most robust safety nets for youth aging out of foster care in the United States.  While the POKETT Act prohibits CFSA from using youths’ federal benefits to pay for the costs of care and creates a nest egg for eligible youth leaving care, this bill would ensure that youth can access up to five years of housing assistance. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this critical legislation.





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