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Montgomery County-Ohio: Local Foster Advocates Celebrate Congressman Turner’s Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act (FSHO) Signed into Law

Dayton, Ohio: Joined by Montgomery County Commissioner Debbie Lieberman, Montgomery County Children’s Services, Foster ACTION Ohio, and former foster youth, today Congressman Mike Turner held a press conference to discuss the passing of his bill, the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act (FSHO) which passed in omnibus legislation at the end of 2020 and was signed into law.

 

dayton foster bill

 

FSHO, which the Congressman first introduced in 2015, prioritizes minors who are aging out of foster care and at risk of homelessness, and equips them with more opportunities to successfully transition towards independent and stable adult lives.

Doris Edelmann, a member of the Action Ohio Youth Advisory Board who worked with the Congressman on this issue since 2015, thanked the Congressman for his relentless advocacy in introducing and passing FSHO:

“After many years of Congressman Turner’s tireless advocacy on behalf of foster advocates in our community, I’m grateful that the Congressman pushed legislation he introduced over the finish line, which will help end youth homelessness due to children aging out of the foster system. Since I first met the Congressman years ago, he has championed this important fight and truly been a voice for the voiceless—our children—who are some of the most vulnerable among us,” said Edelmann. “I thank the Congressman for this tireless advocacy on this issue, as his legislation signed into law takes a massive step to end federally created homelessness and help provide children in the foster system with the ability to build a brighter and more secure future.”

Congressman Turner stated:

“The Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities will eliminate federally created homelessness. Thousands of children are put on the streets by the failure of government to act and protect them—this bill fixes that,” said Turner. “Working with Doris Edelmann, Action OHIO and many Ohio advocates, I’m honored to have championed this legislation and to continue to be a voice for children in our community and across our country.”

Former foster youth and advocates also spoke at the press conference, including Cloe Cooper, who serves on the Housing Liaison for ACTION Ohio, Jonathon Thomas, foster youth advocate, Jamole Callahan, Director of Training and Development at ACTION Ohio and Sydney Dykes, a foster youth advocate.

“Rep. Turner has been our first and most authentic champion. He heard our stories and took action. With the support of Congressman Turner, this life changing legislation gives former foster youth a chance to build a life of their own and a chance at the life they deserve,” said Cloe Cooper.

 (From a previous article in 2019 that explains more about this bill)

“The Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act will help break the cycle of federally created homelessness, in which youth are currently aging out of foster care and into homelessness,” said Turner. “Roughly 21,000 youth across the country age out of foster care each year. This bill will create a pathway for kids aging out of the foster care system to transition successfully into independence. Aging out of foster care should not mean aging into homelessness. I am proud to have championed FSHO since its inception in 2015 – and after four years of refining this legislation, working directly with foster youth and alumni, and collaborating with Members on both sides of the aisle, I look forward to advancing FSHO through the House of Representatives.”

“Young people leaving foster care are often at great risk of homelessness and poverty,” said Rep. Dean. “This legislation will help them keep a roof over their heads as they claim their education or build a career.”

“At 18, life is just getting started, and foster youth should not have their potential squandered by homelessness,” Rep. Stivers said. “We should be giving kids all the tools they need to succeed, and that is what this legislation does. I’m proud to partner with Reps. Turner, Dean, and Bass to introduce the FSHO, and look forward to the impact it will make for over 20,000 foster youth.”

“We applaud the Financial Services Committee staff for working in close partnership with foster youth to craft this elegantly simple, yet sophisticated solution to homelessness,” said Ruth White, executive director of the National Center for Housing and Child Welfare. “With this re-introduction of FSHO Mrs. Dean, Mrs. Bass, Mr. Turner, and Mr. Stivers are leading a bipartisan effort to close the systems gaps through which foster youth age out into homelessness and instead set them on a path to economic success.”

“As a former foster youth who has been advocating for over a decade to improve access to housing and self-sufficiency services for my brothers and sisters in care, it is hard to express how gratifying it has been to work in full partnership with Hill staff to craft FSHO,” said Jamole Callahan, Director of Training and Development for ACTION Ohio. “Reps. Dean, Bass, Turner, and Stivers have set a high bar for what it means to value the voices of youth and as a result youth no longer have to experience homelessness - instead they will thrive.”

BACKGROUND

In FY2016, the Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families estimated that over 20,000 youth across the country emancipated (“aged out”) from foster care. The Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act prioritizes minors who are aging out of foster care and at risk of homelessness when furnishing housing assistance, and provides these individuals enhanced opportunities to become successful, productive members of society. Foster care alumni with stable housing and a legitimate chance to establish themselves as they transition into adulthood are more likely to become successful, self-sufficient citizens.

The Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act will improve upon existing law, using an approach that aligns federal housing assistance resources to reach foster youth concurrent with their aging out of foster care and within the local jurisdiction where they live. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and local Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) will coordinate with Public Child Welfare Agencies (PCWAs) to match up foster youth across the country who are aging out and at risk of homelessness with 3-year housing vouchers, precisely when and where demand exists.

Foster alumni can extend their housing assistance for up to two “bonus” years for a maximum of 5 years total – typically through age 25 – by demonstrating that they are moving toward self-sufficiency by participating in HUD’s Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program, pursuing further education, engaging in workforce development or vocational training, or are employed. Participating foster care alumni are also eligible to take advantage of any wrap-around or supportive services (e.g., self-sufficiency & life skills training) offered by, or through, the local PHA.

The Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act has been endorsed for the 116th Congress or in a previous Congress by the following organizations:

  • National Center for Housing and Child Welfare
  • Alumni of Care Together Improving Outcomes Now (ACTION) Ohio
  • Ohio Youth Advisory Board (YAB)
  • Benchmarks
  • Bethesda Clinic
  • Center of Vocational Alternatives (COVA) (Ohio)
  • Central Missouri Foster Care & Adoption Association
  • Child Welfare League of America
  • Coalition on Human Needs
  • Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption
  • El’lesun
  • Elevating Connections
  • Elon Homes and Schools for Children Inc
  • First Focus Campaign for Children
  • Forward Steps Foundation
  • Foster Alumni Mentors
  • Foster Care Alumni of America
  • Foster Care C.A.N.
  • Foster-U
  • Fostering Change Network LLC
  • Friends of Children
  • iFoster
  • John Burton Advocates for Youth
  • LIFE Skills Foundation
  • Lighthouse Youth Services (Ohio)
  • MCYS - Bridgeway Shelter
  • Methodist home
  • Monarch
  • National Alliance to End Homelessness
  • National Low Income Housing Coalition
  • National Network for Youth
  • Ohio Association of Child Caring Agencies
  • Ohio Children's Alliance
  • Safe Harbor Orphan Care
  • SchoolHouse Connection
  • The International Institute Of Family Development
  • The Purple Project
  • Turning Points for Children
  • Wilkes County DSS
  • WV Child Care Association

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