Sunday, September 29, 2019

Roman receives Rising Up and Moving On Award during 2019 PCSAO Conference

Roman Sandhu serves as Vice President for the Overcoming Hurdles In Ohio Youth Advisory Board (OHIO YAB) is a statewide organization of young people (aged 14-24) who have experienced foster care. The OHIO YAB exists to be the knowledgeable statewide voice that influences policies and practices that impact youth who have or will experience out of home care.

As a youth advocate, Roman has traveled to Washington, D.C. twice to represent his fellow foster youth. In 2018, the OHIO YAB was honored to be nominated by Senator Rob Portman as his 2018 Angels in Adoption® Honoree. In 2019, Roman participated in Three Days on the Hill, an annual trip facilitated by ACTION Ohio to provide foster care youth and alumni with opportunities to further their leadership development. He participated in a meeting with HUD Secretary Ben Carson, and helped facilitate a federal briefing.

During both of his trips to DC, Roman advocated for the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act. The concepts contained in the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act have been written and refined over six years by foster care youth and alumni, with the goal of bridging
the gap between foster care and housing stability, and building a platform for self sufficiency. Roman also spoke with federal legislators about the Improved Employment Outcomes for Foster Youth Act, which would make transition-age foster youth one of the populations that are targeted by the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, and incentivize employers to hire transition-age foster youth.

 As an OHIO YAB Officer, Roman has exemplified the guidelines of the OHIO YAB Code of Conduct. He has helped facilitate youth brainstorming sessions during statewide meetings of the OHIO YAB. Roman always comes to meetings prepared. He participates in OHIO YAB Officers calls, and has worked tirelessly on the budget for the statewide board.

Roman has recently graduated high school and started college. We are proud of him for all that he has accomplished, and we believe in his ability to continue to do great things in the future. It is always a pleasure to stand side-by-side with Roman, with the goal of improving outcomes for his fellow foster care youth.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Op Ed by HUD Secretary Ben Carson

Young people enter our foster care system for many different reasons, but too many share a common story once they age out: They don’t have a stable home of their own.

One of our recent “Humans of HUD” spotlights here at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development features Adora, a young lady who was just a teenager when her mother died and her father returned to his home country. For Adora and her siblings, America was the only home they knew. But without their parents, they entered the foster care system and were shuffled from place to place. Imagine growing older and aging out of foster care, alone, without a home or any of the support young people need to set out on their own path. 

Each year, there are more than 20,000 young people with stories like Adora’s who age out of foster care. Shockingly, the National Center for Housing and Child Welfare estimates that 25% of these young people will experience homelessness within four years. 

Recently, it was my personal and professional point of pride to announce a brand new initiative: Foster Youth to Independence, a collaborative effort to combat homelessness among at-risk youth by targeting housing assistance to young people leaving foster care. HUD’s new program allows local public housing authorities to request tenant protection vouchers for young adults who have recently left foster care without a home to go to.

It is complementary to FUP, our Family Unification Program, and has three main goals:

 ▪ It will address the lack of availability of housing vouchers to young people in communities without access to FUP resources. 

 ▪ It will prioritize resources to our nation’s at-risk youth. Currently, young people encounter significant barriers to accessing affordable housing resources, including the FUP program. For example, local welfare authorities often prioritize families at risk of homelessness over single, young adults. This contributes to the fact that early-age populations make up only about 5% of FUP housing voucher recipients.

 ▪ This program will further HUD’s goal of ending homelessness. No person should experience homelessness. Not only will this initiative provide foster youth with housing, but it will also provide them with the tools they need to become self-sufficient through supportive services they can access for up to three years. 

Stable housing lays the foundation for a stable family and, in turn, a stable life. This program will work with local authorities to direct housing assistance to the young people who need it most. For too long, foster youth have been forgotten when it comes to affordable housing. HUD is committed to changing that.  

I am proud of HUD’s many efforts to help set forgotten Americans onto a path to self-sufficiency. No matter the obstacles, no matter how difficult the beginnings, anyone can rise to their potential in the land of the free. And at HUD, we are committed to making that dream a reality for all of America’s vulnerable — our young people included.

~ Ben Carson is secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.