Vouchers for Housing = Hope

Margaux Jones, Program Supervisor in Independent Living Program

There is such joy, excitement, and freedom that comes with moving into your first apartment. It can also be frightening navigating new environments and experiences. These highs and lows are emphasized when working with the “Foster Youth to Independence” Voucher. The Foster Youth to Independence Voucher, or FYI voucher, is a new statewide program that provides housing choice vouchers to former foster youth who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness. This voucher allows youth to pay a portion of their income towards rent, so they can afford housing while working towards self-sufficiency and independence. Family Care Network has been able to provide Case Management to these youth, and our agency collaborates with the Housing Authority of San Luis Obispo and our county Department of Social Services. Not only does this opportunity provide youth with tangible support, but it also provides hope for their future.

One youth who has benefited from this program is Trey*. Trey has faced many challenges in his life. He entered foster care at a young age, and lived in multiple homes and participated in several support programs before aging out of foster care at 18. Trey was homeless for a time before participating in extended foster care, which provided some extra support and funding so that he could rent a room. However, as he neared 21, he knew his extended foster care would be coming to an end. With little savings and no family support, Trey faced a return to homelessness. Even working full-time at his job did not provide him the income he needed to pay for rent and living expenses in our county. Housing in our county is expensive and hard to come by, and the additional barriers foster youth experience can make it that much harder.

When Trey was referred to the FYI Voucher program, he found himself more hopeful for his future. Trey worked with his Case Manager to obtain the documentation he needed to rent an apartment, including applying for a replacement ID card and obtaining a credit report. Working with the government agencies needed to obtain these documents was a lengthy process. It was months before everything was ready for him, but he persevered knowing that there was hope for his future housing. 

His Case Manager helped him to complete paperwork that the Housing Authority would need to officially provide him with a voucher. Once he had been issued his voucher, he still had to find an apartment to rent. His Case Manager taught him about how to search for an apartment, how to fill out rental applications, and how to talk to landlords. Trey was so excited that he jumped in whole heartedly to his housing search. He reached out to multiple listings a week for a month, until his hard work finally paid off. Trey found a one-bedroom apartment with a manager who was willing to rent to him and work with the Housing Authority to utilize his voucher. 

Trey started the new year in a new apartment with security and safety for his future. Thanks to our amazing donors, Family Care Network was able to pay for Trey’s security deposit, allowing him to use his limited funds on the other essentials like furnishings and bedding. Trey feels proud of his new apartment, and excitement for this new chapter of his life. His Case Manager will continue to provide him with support as he maintains his housing, and continues to work towards self-sufficiency. 

Knowing that he had housing security changed Trey’s outlook on his life. Having his basic needs met has allowed Trey to flourish and set new goals. He pushed for a promotion opportunity at work. He has been able to focus more time on fostering relationships with his chosen family. Overall, he has been able to enjoy a life with more access to opportunities and independence. The FYI voucher and amazing FCN donors allow youth like Trey to start anew, with hope and safety they need to reach their full potential.