In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to help former foster care youth obtain housing:
“Young adults transitioning out of the foster care system are often at great risk of homelessness and poverty. In fact, studies show that more than one in four former foster children becomes homeless within two to four years of leaving the system. This legislation will help them keep a roof over their heads as they claim their education or build a career.”
Original cosponsor Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) adds:
“The Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act will help break the cycle of federally created homelessness, in which youth are currently aging out of foster care and into homelessness. Roughly 21,000 youth across the country age out of foster care each year. This bill will create a pathway for kids aging out of the foster care system to transition successfully into independence. Aging out of foster care should not mean aging into homelessness. I am proud to have championed FSHO since its inception in 2015 – and after four years of refining this legislation, working directly with foster youth and alumni, and collaborating with Members on both sides of the aisle, I look forward to advancing FSHO through the House of Representatives.”
The National Center for Housing and Child Welfare supports this bill. Its executive director, Ruth White, says:
“We applaud the Financial Services Committee staff for working in close partnership with foster youth to craft this elegantly simple, yet sophisticated solution to homelessness. By leading the re-introduction of FSHO, Rep. Dean is both protecting America’s youth and acting on the commitment she made when she joined the Committee to tap existing tools to coordinate resources to improve the quality of life in communities nationwide.”
This legislation passed the House Financial Services Committee by a unanimous 47-0 vote with the support of 11 bipartisan cosponsors, including eight Democrats and three Republicans. Over 40 housing, foster children’s advocacy, and youth advocacy organizations support this legislation. They include the National Alliance to End Homelessness, National Low Income Housing Coalition, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Child Welfare League of America, Coalition on Human Needs, Foster Care Alumni of America, and more.
In the 115th Congress, this legislation was sponsored by Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) with the support of 29 bipartisan House cosponsors, including 19 Republicans and 10 Democrats. It passed the House Financial Services Committee by a 34-23 vote, but didn’t receive a vote in the full House. Its Senate companion, sponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) with the support of six bipartisan Senate cosponsors, including four Democrats, one Republican, and one Independent, didn’t receive a committee vote.
Last Congress, those who opposed this bill in the House Financial Services Committee expressed concerns that it would allow foster alumni to receive precedence over “other households that have been waiting in line for assistance, including other vulnerable populations such as people experiencing homelessness, veterans, victims of domestic violence, and families with young children.” They also took issue with the bill’s imposition of work requirements, which they argued haven’t been proven to help individuals increase their earned incomes, and which would leave the most vulnerable foster youth at risk of eviction and homelessness.
Of Note: The Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration for Children and Families estimates that over 20,000 youth emancipated (“aged out”) of the foster care system in FY2016. When this happens, these former foster youth are at risk of homelessness. The sudden transition from foster care to adulthood, including the related loss of the child welfare system’s financial, educational, and social supports, puts recently emancipated foster youth at great risk. Data and reports show that by age 19, young people transitioning out of foster care are at elevated risk of homelessness, lack of educational attainment, and are more likely to be unemployed.
Summary by Lorelei Yang(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Motortion)