By Vanguard Staff
Sacramento, CA – A bill that would create a forgivable loan program for new housing for homeless youth, foster youth, and youth exiting the criminal justice system has passed the Assembly Committee on Housing and Community Development by a bipartisan, unanimous vote of 8-0.
SB 234, the SUPPORT Act, authored by Senator Scott Wiener, advances to the Assembly Committee on Human Services.
SB 234 creates the Transition Aged Youth Housing Program to fund new housing, or acquire existing housing, for transition age youth between ages 16 and 26. The housing will serve young people who are homeless, in or exiting foster care, or exiting the criminal justice system. SB 234 is co-sponsored by the Alliance for Children’s Rights, California Coalition for Youth, and Children Now.
Transition age youth face extremely high rates of housing instability and homelessness, which makes it difficult to pursue education or employment opportunities and therefore the chance to become self-sufficient. Foster youth and justice-involved youth are particularly at risk for homelessness. Though California funds extended foster care programs for those aged 18-21, there is a dearth of proper funding for supportive housing reserved for young people transitioning to adulthood.
The legislation will help remove financial barriers to construction and acquisition for many affordable housing developers. Housing projects eligible for this funding will address California’s long-term housing crisis and its more pressing housing needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic for vulnerable transition age youth.
The loans distributed by the program will assist nonprofit organizations, local governments, and community-based organizations contracted by a local government. These entities will be eligible if they provide emergency shelter and transitional housing for transition age youth. The loans will be interest free and forgivable, for the purpose of building emergency shelter, transitional housing, or permanent supportive housing. About fifty percent of the funds will be earmarked for projects that serve extended foster care youth age 18-21.
“It’s time we recognize how much more support we need to provide our vulnerable youth population,” Senator Wiener said. “Kids exiting foster care or the criminal justice system, and young people experiencing homelessness are not getting the resources they need to live healthy and full lives. The SUPPORT Act will provide more permanent solutions for those that are ready to start their transition to a successful and independent adulthood.”