A safe, stable home is the foundation for opportunity – without it, it can be hard to hold down a job, pursue a degree, and to build a life.
But every year, just as they’re about to start their lives as adults, 20,000 young people around the country lose their homes as they “age out” of foster care.
All of a sudden these young adults who depended on the foster care system for a place to call home are now on their own. They don’t have the same family safety net to fall back on that others may have. Instead of focusing on their higher education, they often face housing instability, and a third of them will experience homelessness.
That’s why I worked with foster care youth, alumni, and allies in Ohio, and with my Republican colleague Senator Grassley, to introduce the bipartisan Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act last month.
The legislation would streamline access to housing assistance for foster youth, provide additional resources in more communities, and encourage local housing and child welfare agencies to work to together to better serve these vulnerable young people.
Last week I spoke with Cloé Cooper of Columbus. Ms. Cooper was in foster care until she turned 18, and “aged out” of the system. She struggled to find food and housing and to get through higher education. But then she found out about the Columbus State Scholar Network, which provides support to foster youth seeking higher education. She was hired as a coordinator for the program and was able to return to school.
We need to help people like Ms. Cooper start off on the right foot, as they step out into the world as independent adults.
Our bill has the support of nearly 100 organizations and 55,000 current and former foster youth around the country, and we’ve already held a hearing on it in the Banking Committee this year. I’m hopeful we can make progress on this bipartisan effort, so that more young Ohioans can have the safe, stable homes we all need in life.
Sherrod Brown is a Democratic U.S. Senator representing Ohio.