In an effort to help children in foster care to reunite with their families and caregivers, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has awarded $1,053,919 to three public housing authorities in Tennessee. This funding will make 160 vouchers available for families whose inadequate housing is the cause for their separation or near separation of children.
“HUD is committed to helping parents and caregivers obtain safe and affordable housing for their families,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “This investment will allow thousands of children to leave the foster care system and live with their families so they have the opportunity to thrive together.”
The funding announced last week is offered through HUD's Family Unification Program (FUP), which provides rental assistance to parents being separated or near-separated from their children. Additionally, this funding is used to help provide stable housing for young adults (ages 18-24) who have aged out of the foster care system.
Like HUD's Housing Choice Vouchers, these vouchers allow families to rent housing from a private landlord and generally pay 30 percent of their monthly adjusted gross income towards rent and utilities.
According to the National Center for Housing and Child Welfare (NCHCW), an affordable housing/child welfare advocacy group, keeping children in foster care is an expensive alternative to affordable housing. On average, it costs more than $48,000 annually per family when children enter foster care. By contrast, housing and services to keep a family together costs approximately $15,000 annually. Supportive services for FUP families and youth are provided by agencies funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A $20 million investment in FUP vouchers saves more than $134 million in foster care costs.
Housing authorities that are awarded vouchers work closely with local public welfare agencies to identify youth at risk of homelessness and families for whom the lack of adequate housing is a primary reason the family's children are in, or must be placed in, foster care.