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Foster Youth and Homelessness: What are the Risk Factors?

When do youth become adults? If you ask the foster care system in most places, it’s at the age of 18, when youth “age out,” or are required to exit the system. More than 20,000 youth age out of foster care each year. This means that they have to learn to meet their own needs, as they no longer will have their needs met by the state. They must identify and maintain housing, find a job, and manage their own finances. Put simply: each year, more than 20,000 youth must rapidly become adults.

For many of these youth, aging out of foster care leaves them in a precarious situation in which they are vulnerable to homelessness. If we know that youth exiting foster care are particularly vulnerable to homelessness, what can we do to support this transition for the youth who are most likely to become homeless? And, how do we know which of these youth are most likely to become homeless?

Now is a Critical Moment for PHAs in the Fight to End Homelessness

Due to the sequestration cuts in fiscal year (FY) 2013, about 100,000 fewer families had access to housing vouchers by June of 2014 compared to December 2012[EC1] , according to speakers on a recent webinar held by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “Prospects for 2016 Funding and Implications for Voucher Utilization.”

The lack of funding has put public housing authorities (PHAs), which are responsible for administering housing assistance, in a tight spot. PHAs have become reluctant to issue housing vouchers to families in need of assistance out of fear that they won’t be able to renew them. The good news is that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently announced that funding will be available this year to cover 100 percent of voucher renewal costs from calendar year 2014.

Here’s a Fast and Easy Way for You to Help End Homelessness

It’s that time of year again when members of Congress are circulating “Dear Colleague letters” to encourage their colleagues to support increased funding levels for programs that they care about.

As such, we’ve launched a Letter Writing Campaign to urge members of Congress sign on to letters in support of funding the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program at the level the Obama Administration proposed for FY 2016: $2.480 billion. This funding level would accelerate our progress toward ending chronic, family, and youth homelessness by allowing us to provide an additional 25,500 units of permanent supportive housing and 15,000 rapid re-housing interventions.

On Hypothermia Nights: Helping People Experiencing Homelessness

Here in Washington, DC the cold temperatures and harsh weather during hypothermia season, which lasts from November through March, are dangerous for everyone, but they are perhaps most dangerous for those who are homeless. Just last year, the punishing winter resulted in nine known deaths of homeless individuals in DC.

This winter I volunteered with the Hypothermia Emergency Response Team, which is run by the Capitol Hill Group Ministry. Team volunteers are deployed on nights when the Department of Human Services issues a hypothermia alert in an effort to support the city’s efforts to provide emergency shelter on these frigid nights. Hypothermia alerts are issued when the temperature is forecasted to fall to 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below, including the wind chill factor.

Homelessness and Taxes: Tax Credits and The Affordable Care Act

It’s that time of year again when everyone must do their taxes. Of course, most people experiencing homelessness don’t file tax returns and wouldn’t suffer a penalty for not filing because they make little to no money.

Contrary to what many people believe, though, many homeless people are employed, at least part of the time. According to a 2002 national study by the Urban Institute, about 45 percent of homeless adults had worked in the past 30 days, only 14 percentage points lower than the employment rate for the general population at that time.

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