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New federal program could help youths aging out of foster care in Maine [Portland Press Index]


By Eric Russell, Aug 1, 2019, Portland Press Index

A new federal program targeting young people who age out of the foster care system could provide housing vouchers to as many as 25 youths in Greater Portland.

U.S. Housing and Urban Development regional administrator David Tille will be in Portland on Friday to give more details about the initiative that was announced last week by HUD Secretary Ben Carson. Rhonda Siciliano, a spokeswoman for HUD, said Wednesday that the Foster Youth to Independence Initiative is meant to target a population that has a high risk of homelessness.

“This will allow local housing authorities to work with local child welfare service organizations to identify children who are aging out of the foster care system but might not have an immediate place to go,” she said.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that as many as 20,000 young people age out of the foster care system every year. Among that group, 28 percent experience homelessness by age 21, according to the National Youth in Transition Database, and in some states, it’s above 40 percent.

The Portland Housing Authority will administer the vouchers and will work closely with the Preble Street Resource Center to identify young people who might be eligible.

Mark Adelson, executive director of the housing authority, said his staff already administers other housing voucher programs, including Section 8 and a veteran-specific program, many of which involve providing housing for people who are homeless.

“To have an opportunity to prevent homelessness, particularly for youth, we feel like this could be a really effective program,” he said.

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