DCYF’s Adolescent Programs division oversees implementation of the Foster Youth to Independence (FYI) initiative for Washington State, coordinating with each local Public Housing Authority.
In partnership with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the FYI initiative provides public housing vouchers to assist young adults transitioning out of foster care who are at risk of becoming homeless.
HUD recently announced that $42,829 was awarded in Washington to the Bremerton Housing Authority (BHA) to provide up to 36 months of rental assistance and supportive services for youth at risk of experiencing homelessness. The announcement comes during National Foster Care Month.
In April 2022, the first FYI voucher holder in Kitsap County was successfully leased up. Sarah (name changed for privacy) and her family now have a home to call their own, thanks to the FYI program.
Sarah has been a part of the Independent Living Services (ILS) program since she was a teenager (ILS is funded by the Chafee foster care independence program through the Children’s Bureau). Bouncing from home to home, running from abuse and trauma, Sarah stuck with her goals and worked hard at her independent skills. Now, nearly aging out of ILS services, Sarah has a brand-new baby and committed partner trying to make their way in the world. She heard about the FYI voucher and attended an application workshop. After completing the mountain of paperwork, receiving her voucher, and attending an orientation, Sarah was ready to start looking for houses.
With support from BHA and Olive Crest ILS, and after a competitive process, Sarah and her family got the keys to their home. Sarah, her new baby, and her partner are excited to start out with a strong foundation for a successful launch into young adulthood. – Provided by Olive Crest ILS
Positive outcomes like Sarah’s are possible thanks to an agreement between a network of partners that make the FYI program successful, including DCYF, BHA, Kitsap County, Olive Crest, Kitsap Community Resources, WorkSource of Washington, Educational Service District 114, and more.Furthermore, this work aligns with several legislative requirements for DCYF, including SB 6560’s requirement to ensure no young person is discharged into homelessness from a system of care, SB 5566’s expansion of eligibility for independent youth housing, and SB 5718, which established the child welfare housing assistance program.
The FYI program has come a long way in a short time. In early 2021, housing vouchers were available in just two counties. Today, vouchers are available in eight counties, with four more in discussion and new counties expressing interest each month. DCYF’s goal is to expand to all 39 counties across Washington State. To do this, the agency and its partners are exploring channels of funding to support the services necessary to provide this valuable program long-term.