More Than 25% Of Miami’s Foster Youth May Experience Homelessness After Leaving State Care -- Affordable Housing Desperately Needed

Results came from a year-long FIU study into the housing challenges faced by Former Foster youth age 18-23 in Miami-Dade County. Black, Hispanic, White and Multi-Racial Young Adults Surveyed
  • Miami, FL (1888PressRelease) May 12, 2009 - A year-long study of 341 foster care young adults in Miami aged 18-23 indicates that more than 25% of foster teens aging out of State care may end up being homeless. The study was conducted by the Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy at Florida International University (www.fiu.edu), and commissioned by Our Kids of Miami-Dade/ Monroe, Inc. (www.ourkids.us), the Miami Coalition for the Homeless (www.miamihomeless.org) and the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust (www.miamidade.gov/homeless).

    “Miami-Dade County is well known for its lack of affordable housing,” said Ben Burton, Executive Director of the Miami Coalition for the Homeless, which helped fund the study. “This shortage, combined with the economic downturn, has severely impacted the lives of foster care youth aging out of foster care. Their biggest challenge is to find affordable housing in a safe neighborhood where they will have access to mass transit.”

    Approximately 250 foster care youth age out on an annual basis in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. Some of these youth apply for and attend post secondary schooling. However, many do not complete their post secondary schooling due to the challenges of living on their own at such an early age. Former foster care youth find they are faced with obstacles to finding gainful employment which would enable them to avoid homelessness and/or poor living conditions. Most do not own a car which means they are limited to seeking employment in areas that have access to reliable public transportation. Often times, they lack the necessary skills, experience and education that employers seek. Some youth have limited credit or no credit at all.

    “More funding and additional community partners are needed now more than ever if we want to give these young men and women a chance to make it on their own.” said Frances P. Allegra, Executive Director, Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe, Inc. A handful of local affordable housing developers have stepped forward to furnish a limited number of rental apartments available for aged out foster youth.

    According to the study, many former foster care youth cannot find affordable housing and live with various friends and relatives, or may end up in a homeless shelter. After reaching the age of 18, former foster youth may be eligible for a post secondary scholarship program if they meet eligibility requirements and are enrolled in a post secondary school on a full time basis. While they are enrolled in the post secondary school, they can receive a monthly stipend for living expenses such as rent, utilities, food, etc. The average young adult pays 64% of his or her income on housing, which is twice the standard set by U.S. HUD. Rents for very low income affordable housing are designated at 30% of the Area Medium Income.

    The 341 young adults surveyed came from the six foster care agencies serving youth in Miami-Dade County under the umbrella of Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe, Inc., the local lead agency for child welfare in Miami and the Keys, who commissioned the study. All respondents had already aged-out of care. They were self-identified as 63% Black, 23% Hispanic, 5% White and 6% multi-racial, and 62% were female and 38% were male.

    About Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe, Inc.
    Our Kids is the local lead agency for child welfare in Miami and the Keys. Its mission is to oversee and lead a coordinated system of care delivering excellence to abused, abandoned and neglected children and their families in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. For more information, visit www.ourkids.us.

    About the Miami Coalition for the Homeless
    Miami Coalition for the Homeless was organized in 1987 to promote community efforts to prevent and end homelessness in South Florida by establishing alliances with agencies and organizations. The Coalition was instrumental in the creation of the Homeless Providers Forum, the Miami Supportive Housing Corporation, and is a founding member of the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust. The Coalition has also funded several community prevention efforts such as a Homeless Prevention Coordinator through the Homeless Trust, and has sponsored numerous conferences and educational efforts that target the issues related to homelessness. For more information, visit www.miamihomeless.org.

    About the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust
    Miami-Dade County Community Homeless Plan is the blueprint for the local continuum of care. The Miami-Dade County community Homeless Plan developed goals for emergency, transitional and permanent, supported housing. A well-coordinated outreach process ensures easy access to housing and services. The innovative and coordinated continuum of care model has been recognized by U.S. HUD as a model and best practice, the Miami-Dade community was awarded a performance-based Model Cities Initiatives Grant (three-years, $15 million) in 1995. For more information, visit www.miamidade.gov/homeless.

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