Today Governor Polis signed Fostering Success Housing Voucher Program (Senate Bill 23-082) into law. This bill creates a new state-funded rental assistance program to prevent former foster youth from experiencing homelessness. The housing voucher program will provide stable housing for up to 100 youth who are currently 18 but have not yet turned 26, were in foster care on or after their 14th birthday, and are actively participating in a Chafee or Foster Youth Successful Transition to Adulthood grant program’s case management services.
In 2022, 151 Colorado youth transitioned from foster care to adulthood after turning 18. National research shows that about one-third of the nearly 20,000 youth who emancipate from the U.S. foster care system annually will experience homelessness in their first few years of adulthood. National Youth in Transition Surveys from 2015, 2018 and 2021 revealed that 38% of former foster youth in Colorado were experiencing homelessness at age 21.
“We are thrilled to be taking yet another strong step forward in supporting our young people in transitioning to adulthood,” said Mollie Bradlee, deputy director of the Colorado’s Office of Children, Youth and Families. “Youth leaving foster care may not have adults in their lives who can help them get on their feet. They also don’t always have the tools to immediately be independent. This bill works to ensure that youth who have experienced foster care have all of the resources they need to be successful, thriving adults.”
Housing is consistently cited as one of the biggest issues for youth who were previously in foster care. The rental assistance will be allocated to local programs who are current recipients of the Chafee Foster Care Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood program or the Colorado Foster Youth Successful Transition to Adulthood State Grant Program.
“This bill gives us an important new tool in our toolbox to support vulnerable young people in their transition to adulthood. We are grateful to the many partners who worked with us to make Senate Bill 23-082 a strong bill that will benefit so many young people across Colorado. As with our best pieces of policy, it takes research and evidence and uses them to solve one of the biggest barriers to success that our young people face,” said Cole Chandler, CDHS’s director of Homelessness Initiatives.
CDHS and DOLA are working to develop a joint administration and implementation plan for the program, which hopes to start administering vouchers to eligible youth in fall of 2023.
Kelly Tabor, Communications Manager