Ending Homelessness Today

The Official Blog of the National Alliance to End Homelessness

New Housing Vouchers for Homeless or At-Risk Foster Youth: What They Are and How to Apply

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently announced $30 million in new funding for Family Unification Program (FUP) vouchers. FUP vouchers are a vital tool in the fight to end homelessness for families and youth. They can be used to serve families involved in the welfare system as well as young people who have emancipated from foster care.

Breaking the Cycle

Homelessness and child welfare involvement often go hand-in-hand. Youth with foster care histories are significantly over-represented among homeless youth; a 2014 study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that more than half of the homeless youth surveyed had previously stayed in a foster or group home.

For young people aging out of care, the child welfare system can be a direct feeder into youth homelessness. Many lack a source of income or the healthy and reliable social supports needed to maintain stable housing. Mainstream housing supports, like those provided by FUP vouchers, can help young people stabilize their housing situation and go on to develop other supports.

An Underutilized Resource

Despite the need, FUP vouchers have historically been underutilized for youth. However, 2016’s comprehensive Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act extended the maximum length of time for youth FUP vouchers from 18 months to three years, which has reduced administrative burdens for Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) and landlords.

Opportunities for Partnership

The new Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for FUP vouchers is an opportunity for your local PHA to become an even more important partner in the fight to prevent and end youth homelessness. This year’s NOFA requires that PHAs administering FUP vouchers collaborate and coordinate with their local Continuum of Care (CoC). Your community’s CoC can be an important advocate to ensure that youth FUP vouchers become an additional housing resource for current and former foster youth experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

How to Submit a Competitive Application

Applications are due July 24, 2018. Here are some ways your CoC can help your PHA develop a competitive application for the new FUP vouchers:

  1. First, get your PHA and other key partners to the table to strategize about the application. CoCs are skilled at quickly organizing agencies to complete competitive NOFAs — use that expertise to engage PHAs and complete the application.
  2. Be prepared to discuss what you bring to the table as a CoC. CoCs have established relationships with the target populations and landlords. They have experience implementing tenant-based rental assistance programs. And they have systems in place to coordinate outreach and identify applicants.
  3. Demonstrate your ability to be a strong partner and to help carry out the program.

If you’d like to learn more about FUP and the new NOFA, register for this upcoming webinar from our partners at the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) and the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities (CLPHA). If you’re already using FUP in your community to address youth homelessness (like the awesome folks at Mile High United Way), we’d love to hear from you! Tell us about it at mmitchell@naeh.org.

P.S. HUD also recently announced $100 million in funding for new “mainstream” housing vouchers for non-elderly people with disabilities, including those at risk of homelessness. Read more about how your community’s PHA and CoC can partner to apply for these funds.