On Monday, November 18, the House passed the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act (FSHO) (H.R. 4300) by unanimous consent. Congressman Mike Turner (R-OH) stated that this is a “bill of the heart and that he is looking forward to working with his colleagues in the Senate to ensure this bill becomes law and that aging out of foster care does not mean aging into homelessness.” The companion bill, S. 2803, is lead by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA). Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities would provide foster youth with better access to housing through “on demand” Family Unification Program (FUP) vouchers. The vouchers & services to support youth in stable housing will be limited to 36 months – but youth may voluntarily participate in self-sufficiency services to extend the voucher for an additional two years (for a total of five).

On Thursday, November 21, the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) and Council of Large Public Housing Authorities (CLPHA) hosted a webinar that provided an overview of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) 2019 Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) application for FUP. The webinar included an overview of HUD’s NOFA issuance for FUP and two examples from jurisdictions in Ohio and Washington that are utilization FUP.

Heather Coughlin from Akron, Ohio and Kristen Cane from Snohomish County, Washington detailed how FUP vouchers are utilized in their jurisdiction to provide integrated housing and services, including supportive housing, for families involved in child welfare systems and is an important part of providing assistance to youth as well. Some of the challenges that were presented included how to serve the most vulnerable families, addressing racial disparities, and housed youth needing additional supports. Both presenters stated that they could use more vouchers to serve families.

For youth transitioning from the foster care system additional provisions of the HR 4300 include streamlining access to FUP vouchers for PHAs in more communities, which will make it easier to serve foster youth in their place of origin and requiring coordination between the public child welfare agencies and PHAs to identify youth who would eligible for the program and available supportive services.