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The District of Columbia Housing Authority recently received more vouchers to assist youth at risk of homelessness, families who need affordable housing to reunite, and veterans.

“DCHA greatly appreciates any and all extra funding for vouchers to house vulnerable populations in the District from children aging out of foster care to our veterans,” said DCHA Executive Director Tyrone Garrett. “We will work to secure stable housing for these new customers so they can build successful futures for themselves.”

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded a total of $30 million to public housing authorities nationwide, making 3,000 vouchers available for families who are unable to secure affordable housing for their children or dependents.

HUD also awarded the District of Columbia Housing Authority (DCHA) nearly $1 million in vouchers that will be used along with local public welfare agencies to identify youth at risk of homelessness, as well as families whose lack of adequate housing is the primary reason their children are in foster care.

 “HUD is committed to helping parents and caregivers obtain safe and affordable housing for their families,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson in a statement. “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.”

This funding is offered through HUD's Family Unification Program (FUP), which provides rental assistance to parents struggling to provide adequate housing for their children.  Additionally, this funding can be 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.

Combined with DCHA’s existing FUP vouchers, the agency now has 448 FUP vouchers.

“DCHA is going to focus these new vouchers on youth aging out of the foster care system. This program has a focus on getting the supportive services these people need to be productive, young adults,” said Ronald McCoy, DCHA’s Director of the Housing Choice Voucher Program. “Working with D.C. Child Protective Services and other agencies, my goal is to give them stabilization with the voucher, the services they need, and get them on a path to self-sufficiency and homeownership.”

According to the National Center for Housing and Child Welfare (NCHCW), an affordable housing and 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 per family. 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.

In addition to the FUP vouchers, HUD released another 28 VASH or Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing vouchers to DCHA. These vouchers, in addition to the release of 35 VASH vouchers a few months ago, bring the agency’s total VASH vouchers to 1,137.

“VA, HUD, and our federal, state and local partners are proud of the significant decline in Veteran homelessness achieved in recent years; however, important work remains,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie in a statement the day of the release. “The housing choice vouchers and wraparound supportive service announced today will improve the lives of many veterans who are currently homeless by helping them find a place to call home and reintegrate back into their families and communities.”

In the VASH program, VA Medical Centers (VAMCs) assess veterans experiencing homelessness before referring them to local housing agencies, like DCHA, for these vouchers. Decisions are based on a variety of factors, most importantly the duration of homelessness and the need for long-term, intensive support in obtaining and maintaining permanent housing. The program includes both the rental assistance the voucher provides and the comprehensive case management that VAMC staff offers.

 

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DCHA Executive Director Tyrone Garrett
Last modified: 1/23/2019 12:39:28 PM