LOS ANGELES, CA – At the direction of Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, the Board of Supervisors today approved three motions to help youth exiting foster care maintain housing and overall stability, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The federal Supporting Foster Youth and Families Through the Pandemic Act permitted young adults over 21 years of age to remain in the Extended Foster Care (EFC) program and continue receiving federal funding and case management services from county child welfare agencies. The extended funding and services have been a critical support in helping youth maintain housing and overall stability during the pandemic. While the funding was originally scheduled to terminate as of June 30, 2021, the State of California extended the funding deadline for eligible young people twice, and the funding will now terminate December 31, 2021. This deadline is commonly referred to as the “EFC housing cliff,” as youth who do not have another source of funding to replace the EFC income are at risk of homelessness come January 1, 2022. In Los Angeles County, approximately 1,100 youth will no longer meet the requirements for extended foster care funding and case management support as of January 1, 2022. However, thanks to the diligence of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and community partners, the majority of these youth have a housing plan in place.
“While I am glad stable housing has been identified for the young adults who would have fallen into homelessness if it weren’t for the Extended Foster Care program, it is critical that we identify contingency plans in case housing falls through for all youth who will become ineligible for foster care at the end of the year,” shared Supervisor Solis. “At a time when a new variant may take hold, we owe it to these youth to ensure they have what they need for a successful transition. Coupled with the shortage of affordable housing in LA County, these contingency efforts are necessary to help some of the exiting youth avoid falling into homelessness and the associated health and safety risks. We have what it takes to support our young adults transition, and this motion helps to connect all those dots.”
This motion directs DCFS to work with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) to ensure youth in the December 31, 2021 cohort access available Rapid Rehousing funds for eligible youth. In addition, it directs the County’s Chief Executive Office, working with DCFS, LAHSA, and the County’s Department of Public Social Services (DPSS), to ensure that youth who do not qualify for these Rapid Rehousing funds are matched to other housing resources including possible emergency funds if needed. Moreover, this motion also directs DPSS to ensure these youth are connected to DPSS benefits upon their exit from foster care given so many of them will likely be eligible for CalFresh and other safety net services the Department provides.
“Public Counsel appreciates the diligence of DCFS and its community partners in creating transition plans for exiting foster youth in LA County to help keep them housed after December 31,” shared Rachel Stein, Supervising Staff Attorney at Transition Age Youth Project. “However, Los Angeles is one of the most expensive counties in the nation and we’re facing an affordable housing crisis at every level, making it vital to have contingency plans as described in this Motion that take into account the variety of factors faced by exiting youth who do not yet have housing. Our goal is to ensure everyone is safe and housed come January 1.”
“The housing issues facing older youth in foster care has reached the point of crisis,” says Lindsay Verity, attorney with Children’s Law Center of California – who represent all of the children in foster care in Los Angeles, Sacramento and Placer Counties. “I’m just one of many lawyers and I have at least 30 current or former clients who are not sure where they are going to live on January 1. It is a very scary time for them. Without stable housing, their ability to stay in school or keep a job is virtually impossible. Just yesterday, one client said to me, ‘I’m fighting for my life out here.’ We commend and thank Supervisor Solis for this important motion and for her ongoing fight to ensure our clients have the support they need as they lose their foster care benefits.”
The Board of Supervisors additionally approved two other motions from Supervisor Solis to help support foster youth. One motion would build on the existing Housing Navigator program, a newer partnership between DCFS and the County’s Department of Health Services to assist youth with identifying appropriate and available housing options. This includes helping them access financial support for move-in costs, like deposits. It also provides them with help budgeting, establishing utilities, and with landlord communication. There will be an additional $5 million dollars made available through the State of California’s Department of Housing and Community Development. If DCFS receives the amount it projects – over $1 million dollars – LA County will be able to provide housing navigators for an additional 226 youth.
The other motion directs DCFS to apply for the State of California’s new Transitional Housing Program allocation, which would allow LA County to make available an additional 51 beds for former foster youth ages 18 to 25.
“In a program that only has about 120 beds, an additional 51 would be a game changer,” shared Chair Solis. “I’m proud to author this set of motions, and I am very thankful for all of our partners and advocates working to help reduce youth homelessness here in LA County.”