Representative Michael Turner created the “Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act” as a direct result of meeting with Ohio foster care youth during our annual Three Days on the Hill trips to DC.
The Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act (HR 4300) passed unanimously in the House of Representatives on November 18, 2019. In the meantime, a partner bill (that mirrors this one) has been introduced in the United States Senate.
Learn more about the history of the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act.
Foster care youth, alumni and allies from throughout the nation are invited to take the time to write letters of support and sign the online petition for this national opportunity.
It might help to look at:
1.) The Foster Care to Homeless Pipeline document
2.) A one-pager about the Turner Bill and one-pager about the Senate version
3.) Proponent testimony on behalf of ACTION Ohio
4.) The OHIO YAB letter of support
5.) FSHO Letter of Support from the National Center for Housing and Child Welfare
6.) Previous personal support letters from youth and alumni
7.) Thank you letter to Senator Brown
8.) Thank you letter to Senator Grassley
9.) Thank you letter to Senator Reed
10.) Proponent testimony by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
The Problem: High rates of homelessness among foster care alumni leading to negative outcomes. In FY2014, the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families estimated that around 22,000 youth across the country emancipated from foster care.
The Big Picture: Because the government takes on the role of parent for these youth, and also determines when they age out of foster care, it is equally responsible for supplying adequate support as they make the overnight transition into adulthood so as to prevent government-triggered homelessness.
The Benefit to Society: This isn’t just the right thing to do — it makes economical sense when it comes to governmental spending. Helping a young person who “ages out” of foster care create a better future, means that they will be a future taxpayer and empowers them to contribute to society at large. Ignoring their needs, as the only “parent” they have ever had, increases the likelihood of poor outcomes and reliance on long-term governmental assistance.
Aging Out of Foster Care Should Not Mean Aging Into Homelessness: Research demonstrates that the sudden and permanent transition from foster care to adulthood is a key driver behind homelessness. Foster care alumni are one of the most vulnerable, high-risk groups when it comes to homelessness. Nearly one in five youth who were in foster care at age 17 reported that by age 19, they had experienced homelessness at some point during the previous two years.
The Solution: The Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act
The Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act presents a straightforward approach that will help break this cycle of homelessness and negative outcomes for foster care alumni, offering them enhanced opportunities to become successful, productive members of society. Essentially, the bill prioritizes minors who are aging out of foster care, and at risk of homelessness, when furnishing housing assistance.
This legislation uses a two-pronged approach that requires no new spending:
1. Early Application: Youth in foster care would be able to apply for housing assistance upon reaching 16 years of age, prior to aging out of foster care.
2. Priority Preference: If this legislation passes, when a young person reaches the point 6 months prior to aging out of foster care, he or she would automatically receive a “top 3” priority preference over other applicants for housing assistance.
Accountability and Preparation for the Future: The Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act enables those receiving assistance to build a foundation for a productive future, and prepare for a successful transition into lifelong independence. Foster alumni must demonstrate that, within 30 months, they are: (1) pursuing further education; (2) engaged in workforce development or vocational training; or (3) participating in HUD’s Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program. Employment can also be used to satisfy this “active engagement” requirement. To encourage attainment of self-sufficiency within a reasonable time and to free up housing assistance for each new cohort of foster youth aging out each year, housing assistance under this Act phases out upon reaching age 25.
The Bottom Line: Given the parental role the government plays in foster youths’ lives, it has an obligation to prevent government-triggered homelessness within this vulnerable population. Foster care alumni with stable housing and a legitimate chance to establish themselves as they transition into adulthood are more likely to become successful, independent citizens.
Additional Historical Documents:
In the past, fringe groups attempted to share misinformation about the bill, but this was addressed in a straightforward Myths vs. Reality document, and a supportive and clarifying letter from Representative Karen Bass.