Thursday, December 05, 2019

We each have our personal journeys.

As a foster care youth, I was accepted into college at 16 years old, and entrusted to care of a legal guardian.

After being emancipated at age 17, and getting my own apartment, I tried to save a former group home roommate - and ended up homeless. Today, we have a workshop about this called “When Helping You Is Hurting Me.”

I couch-surfed. I slept on the college bus. I slept in college libraries.

I kept on working and going to school, and saved every penny I could.

I was lucky enough to find a future dorm/home in the UK Wesley Foundation I was able to make it through college and grad school.

That was forever ago —- and it doesn’t make sense that our nation hasn’t done more to help with housing supports since then.

The Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act is long-overdue.

During the 2018 trip to DC that Ohio foster care youth made, we had a legislative meeting with Senator Brown’s Office during which there were three of us former fosters in one room who had aged out at age 16, due to academic progress. And  yet, the tightrope when it comes to succeeding vs. ending up homeless hadn’t changed. They were youth and still fighting the same battles to survive that I had.

Our younger brothers and sisters of the system deserve better - and  things don’t tend to get better unless we work together to make them so. For a young person with a foster care history who is experiencing homelessness this is immediate and urgent, and not just some random issue that can be scheduled on a calendar.

 If you have the chance, please call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be transferred to your Senator's office. Please ask your Senator to co-sponsor The Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act (S. 2803) this week and move it to a vote next week. The Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act passed unanimously in the U.S. House of Representatives. Our hope is for the U.S. Senate to move forward and pass it THIS YEAR. ❤️❤️❤️

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Inequity undermines foster care outcomes

In Ohio, social service programs are state sponsored and county administered. This is true for some other states as well -- but, according to the Center for Community Solutions, Ohio is unique in the degree to which we rely on local support of health and social service programs.

While all 50 states have property taxes, Ohio relies on locally-generated funds to support health and social services to a greater degree than most other states do.

This leads to inequity of resources, inconsistency of resources, and explains why, when it comes to social services, our state might seem to be doing the same thing 88 different ways.

Ongoing support for social services in each county is far from guaranteed. If local levies fail, agencies must determine how to maintain mandated services with fewer resources.

What would it take for our state to fund social services differently, rather than relying so heavily on local funds?

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Let's get FSHO passed in the U.S. Senate

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It has already passed unanimously in the U.S. House of Representatives...

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Thankful for this year's early Thanksgiving dinners for foster care youth and alumni

Saturday, November 09, 2019

“Despite the multiple ways that demands on Chafee-funded services have grown, Chafee has received minimal funding increases over the years. In fact, after counting for inflation, Chafee’s funding levels are about 30% lower now than when it was established” in 1999.

Senate version of Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act is introduced

The Senate version of the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act was introduced this week by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA).

Senator Grassley is the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Senator Brown serves as Ranking Member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.

The bill was introduced with no changes. The wording of this bill has been honed by foster youth for years, and they wanted to maintain its integrity.

1. Press Release
2. Thank you letter to Senator Brown
3. Thank you letter to Senator Grassley
4. Proponent testimony by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

20 years at CML

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Miles wins 20 under 20 award

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Link to more photos.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Op Ed by HUD Secretary Ben Carson

Young people enter our foster care system for many different reasons, but too many share a common story once they age out: They don’t have a stable home of their own.

One of our recent “Humans of HUD” spotlights here at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development features Adora, a young lady who was just a teenager when her mother died and her father returned to his home country. For Adora and her siblings, America was the only home they knew. But without their parents, they entered the foster care system and were shuffled from place to place. Imagine growing older and aging out of foster care, alone, without a home or any of the support young people need to set out on their own path. 

Each year, there are more than 20,000 young people with stories like Adora’s who age out of foster care. Shockingly, the National Center for Housing and Child Welfare estimates that 25% of these young people will experience homelessness within four years. 

Recently, it was my personal and professional point of pride to announce a brand new initiative: Foster Youth to Independence, a collaborative effort to combat homelessness among at-risk youth by targeting housing assistance to young people leaving foster care. HUD’s new program allows local public housing authorities to request tenant protection vouchers for young adults who have recently left foster care without a home to go to.

It is complementary to FUP, our Family Unification Program, and has three main goals:

 ▪ It will address the lack of availability of housing vouchers to young people in communities without access to FUP resources. 

 ▪ It will prioritize resources to our nation’s at-risk youth. Currently, young people encounter significant barriers to accessing affordable housing resources, including the FUP program. For example, local welfare authorities often prioritize families at risk of homelessness over single, young adults. This contributes to the fact that early-age populations make up only about 5% of FUP housing voucher recipients.

 ▪ This program will further HUD’s goal of ending homelessness. No person should experience homelessness. Not only will this initiative provide foster youth with housing, but it will also provide them with the tools they need to become self-sufficient through supportive services they can access for up to three years. 

Stable housing lays the foundation for a stable family and, in turn, a stable life. This program will work with local authorities to direct housing assistance to the young people who need it most. For too long, foster youth have been forgotten when it comes to affordable housing. HUD is committed to changing that.  

I am proud of HUD’s many efforts to help set forgotten Americans onto a path to self-sufficiency. No matter the obstacles, no matter how difficult the beginnings, anyone can rise to their potential in the land of the free. And at HUD, we are committed to making that dream a reality for all of America’s vulnerable — our young people included.

~ Ben Carson is secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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