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County Housing Authority Receives $1.1 Million for Foster Youth Program

County Housing Authority Receives $1.1 Million for Foster Youth Program

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) allocated just over $1 million to the Housing Authority of Santa Barbara County as part of the Foster Youth to Independence program.

The initiative seeks to provide housing assistance to youth moving on from foster care and who are at risk of homelessness. According to the county, more than 500 young people currently in foster care will become independent at age 18 and can face an increased risk of homelessness due to multiple factors.

"They often lack the funds for deposits, they don't usually have a cosigner, and in some extreme cases they don't have the proper documentation needed to rent an apartment," said Stephany Rubio, who directs the Guardian Scholars Program at UC Santa Barbara, which supports students from the foster system. "The rising housing costs also create another obstacle."

In total, $12.9 million was awarded to public housing agencies across the country. Santa Barbara County received $1,188,636, which amounts to 58 housing vouchers for homeless young adults ages 18 to 24 who have left or are leaving foster care in a three-month timeframe. The voucher can be used for up to 36 months and must be accompanied by supportive services for the individual, such as educational advancement, employment assistance, and basic life skills training.

"We are thrilled that HUD selected us and are honored to have this opportunity to provide assistance to foster youth in Santa Barbara County," said Nancy Wesoff, with the Housing Authority for the County of Santa Barbara. Eleven individuals are in the program currently, and the grant helps to "provide a hand up to these kids that are coming out of foster care," she said.

By providing housing vouchers for these young adults, the initiative hopes to set them on a path to self-sufficiency. As HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge explained, the fulfillment of this basic need "gives [young adults] the opportunity to focus on their goals and dreams without having to worry about where they are going to lay their head at night."


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