Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), co-founder and co-chair of the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth, released the following statement on a new initiative announced by U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson to target housing assistance to young people aging out of foster care who are at extreme risk of homelessness.
“One of the biggest challenges facing older youth who age out of foster care is housing. This initiative will make it easier for former foster youth to access federal housing assistance so they can continue their education, get a job and have a good start as they transition into adulthood.” Grassley said.
“No young person who grows up in foster care should experience homelessness once they set out on their own. The foundation of a stable life is stable housing and this initiative will allow local housing, working child welfare agencies and homeless planners, to focus this housing assistance to those young people who need it most,” Carson said.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimates that more than 20,000 young people age out of foster care each year. The National Center for Housing and Child Welfare (NCHCW) estimates that approximately 25 percent of these young people experience homelessness within four years of leaving foster care and an even higher share are precariously housed.
HUD is offering tenant-protection vouchers to certain public housing authorities, many located in smaller communities and rural areas, which do not participate in HUD’s Family Unification Program. In addition, participating public housing authorities must:
- Administer a Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program;
- Enter into a partnership agreement with a Public Child Welfare Agency (PCWA);
- Accept young people referred by their partnering PCWA; and
- Determine that the referred youth are eligible for HCV assistance.
Grassley is the co-founder and co-chair of the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth and has been working to improve the lives of foster children and families for more than two decades. In 2008, Grassley introduced the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act, which provided additional federal incentives for states to move children from foster care to adoptive homes. That legislation also made it easier for foster children to be permanently cared for by their own relatives, and to stay in their home communities.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which passed in 2017, preserved the Adoption Tax Credit, making it easier for families who want to adopt children in foster care to do so. Also in 2017, Grassley introduced the Strong Families Act of 2017, legislation to prevent child abuse and improve maternal and child health.
In 2011, Grassley worked to reauthorize grants that support families who struggle with substance abuse, and that improve the well-being of children who are not in their homes or are likely to be removed because of parental substance abuse. His bill, the Building Capacity for Family Focused Residential Treatment Act, was signed into law as part of a bipartisan, bicameral effort to reduce opioid addiction.