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May 11, 2007
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Volume 35
Issue 19
 
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Pedersen bill to help former foster youth get help with housing
Pedersen bill to help former foster youth get help with housing
A bill providing housing stipends for former foster youth was signed by Gov. Christine Gregoire today, reducing the risk of homelessness for young adults who have "aged-out" of the foster care system.

House Bill 1922, sponsored by Rep. Jamie Pedersen (D-Seattle), creates an Independent Youth Housing Program to provide housing stipends and case management services to former dependents of the state ages 18-23.

Recent studies have found that 13-22% of former foster youth experienced homelessness within one year of leaving foster care. Up to 25 percent found shelter with friends. Of the 400 youth who age out of the foster care system each year in Washington, about 43 percent go to work but 47 percent of those are making wages at or below the poverty level.

The Independent Youth Housing Program is designed to offset the disadvantages former foster youth face in obtaining and keeping safe, affordable housing.

"Many former foster kids wind up living on Broadway or University Ave., right in my district," said Rep. Pedersen. "I hope that this program will help foster youth become productive, contributing members of society. If we can keep some of these kids from becoming homeless, it will save the state money in the long run."

Under HB 1922, housing stipends in amounts to be determined by the CTED will be provided to property managers or landlords of housing occupied by former foster youth ages 18 to 23 whose income does not exceed 50 percent of the area median income. Renters benefiting from the stipends must agree to pay a portion of their housing expenses and comply with an independent living plan.

The new law also requires accountability from the program; the Washington State Institute for Public Policy will study the outcomes for participating youth and present a report the Legislature by Dec. 1, 2009. The program received $1 million in funding in the budget passed by the legislature.

A House Democrats press release

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