Federal funding looks to end Austin youth homelessness before it happens

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — A new program aims to provide housing assistance to youth ages 18-24, who are aging out of the foster care system in Austin. 

The Housing Authority of the City of Austin is providing 75 vouchers, representative over one million dollars in supportive housing. The Foster Youth Initiative will help individuals who receive these vouchers to rent a house, duplex, or apartment within the Austin area. 

“This initiative recognizes the importance of addressing homelessness as children leave foster care so they can make a safe transition to adulthood without ending up on the streets,” said Michael Gerber, HACA CEO. “Today’s young people will become tomorrow’s adults, and we must ensure they are adults that are housed and successful.” 

HACA will partner with the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition and Lifeworks Austin to identify eligible foster youth. As part of the assistance, LifeWorks Austin is also providing support services that include counseling, education, and workforce development. 

The housing initiative will help these young people not only build a home for themselves in the Austin-area, but also some stability after growing up without it.

“What a lot of people don’t realize is youth who experience homelessness in our area have been in the juvenile justice system, foster care or both,” said Susan McDowell CEO Life Works.

Life Works will provide case management, work force development and support for education.

The vouchers also give those who qualify the choice of where they want to live, and what communities they want to be part of.

“Some of our youth may want to live near those who have been through the same things and find they get a lot of support in that community,” said McDowell. “Others may want to live near teachers and healthcare workers, part of everyday communities.”

McDowell says the biggest challenge will be this a shortage of available and affordable housing.

By early 2022, all of this money from the federal housing funding should be distributed.

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