Sen. Cortez Masto supports bill to boost affordable housing for foster youth to prevent homelessness during COVID-19 pandemic

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UNITED STATES – MARCH 12: Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., walks through the Senate subway on Thursday, March 12, 2020. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto is doing what she can to help foster youth. In light of recent reports that foster youth aging out of the system during the coronavirus pandemic are at an increased risk for homelessness, Senator Cortez Masto is cosponsoring legislation to help provide stable housing options for foster care youth transitioning to adulthood. 

The bill was introduced by U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa).  

Each year, approximately 20,000 youth across the country age out of foster care. Unfortunately, this sudden transition places these vulnerable young adults at risk of homelessness and housing instability due to the loss of the financial, educational, and social supports that the child welfare system provides. 

The Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act of 2019 would provide Family Unification Program (FUP) Vouchers immediately to foster youth who are at risk of homelessness as they transition to adulthood.

“Young Nevadans aging out of the foster care system are facing unprecedented stress during the coronavirus pandemic as universities cancel in person classes and campus housing and unemployment levels are at record highs,” Sen. Cortez Masto said. “That’s why I’m supporting legislation to secure affordable housing options for these young adults so they can successfully transition out of the system and plan for their futures, without worrying about whether they will have a roof over their head.”

Research shows that up to one-third of young people experience homelessness during their transition from foster care to adulthood, and an additional 7% of foster youth are currently experiencing homelessness as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act of 2019 would address these issues by:

Streamlining access to FUP vouchers for Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) in more communities, making it easier to serve foster youth anywhere they live.

Extending a foster youth’s FUP voucher for up to an additional 24 months as they are working toward self-sufficiency, including participating in a Family Self Sufficiency program.

Requiring coordination between PHAs and Public Child Welfare Agencies to identify eligible recipients and help housing agencies to connect youth to supportive services.

Requiring PHAs to submit information to the Secretary to monitor program outcomes.

In addition to Senators Cortez Masto, Brown and Grassley, U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) also supported this legislation.

Full text of the bill is available here.

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