Pennington County receives two housing grants for foster kids

RAPID CITY, S.D. — Last June, the U.S Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD)  started the Foster Youth to Independence Initiative (FYI).

About a year later, HUD has poured nearly $25,000 into Pennington County, helping youth make the transition from foster care into adulthood.

Dr. Ben Carson, the Secretary of the Housing and Urban Development Department spoke with NewsCenter1.

“About 20,000 people age out of foster care every year and about a quarter of those end up homeless within the next four-year period. An even larger number than that have inadequate housing,” says Dr. Carson.

In both May and June, the Pennington County Housing and Redevelopment Commission received a little over $12,000 in grant money each month.

The money coming from HUD allows the commission to provide housing vouchers for kids aging out of foster care.

“They pay a certain amount of the rent based on their income, basically thirty percent of their income towards their rent and we make up the difference between what the unit costs and what their share is,” says commission director, Doug Wells.

Those aging out will apply for the voucher via the Department of Social Services, from there the commission does their part. The grant money isn’t given all at once, but dispersed with each application.

Once the application is received and approved, the applicant can choose where they want to live.

“They’re eligible for up to three years but they’re in a time in their lives where i feel it can make a huge difference in them getting off to a good start,” says Wells.

The initiative was started after HUD heard individual stories from former foster kids that struggled while transitioning from the system into independence.

Officials were so moved they put the initiative together in four months.

“The goal is not to delay homelessness, but to eliminate homelessness among this group of people and make them really self-sufficient,” shares Dr. Carson.

The FYI grant has been given to 26 states and is expected to provide over 600 vouchers to youth in need.

While this program was pioneered by the government, Dr. Carson encourages us to take action and give others a hand up.

He says, “if you see people who look lonely and dejected there may be something you can do, don’t always wait for the government to do something.”

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News