Rising rent: it’s a cause of concern for tenants across California. Now, imagine it’s not just your own rent you had to worry about, but 49 current and former foster youth!
That was the position of Vanetta Johnson, Executive Director of Beyond Emancipation, a transitional housing provider in Oakland. Beyond Emancipation watched as rents grew ever higher, stretching the foster care rate to a breaking point.
Beyond Emancipation, like the other 63 transitional housing providers across the state, saw a higher and higher share of its funding going to housing costs, making less available to maintain quality services, which are essential to the success of the program.
According to Johnson, “These young people deserve much more than just a roof over their heads. But with rising costs, it’s been increasingly hard to provide the full suite of wraparound services they need.”
That changed on September 1st, thanks to John Burton Advocates for Youth (JBAY). JBAY successfully advocated for a “rate supplement” for transitional housing providers that serve foster youth aged 18 to 21. This amount of the supplement is based on the cost of housing in the county where housing is located.
Providers like Beyond Emancipation now receive additional funding to ensure they can pay the cost of renting an apartment for the youth in their program while still providing comprehensive supportive services like counseling, case management, and crisis intervention; education and employment assistance; and other independent living skills.
According to Johnson, “Young people need someone to help navigate life’s many challenges – everything from finding a job, to applying for college and managing stress. The rate supplement helps Beyond Emancipation ensure youth have someone to turn to navigate these really challenging times.”
Anna Johnson, JBAY’s Associate Director of Housing and Health, has led the implementation process and knows that youth require safe, affordable housing and hands-on supportive services. “The services provided to youth in transitional housing are critical. Thanks to the housing supplement, young people living in high cost areas can receive both.”
According to Anna, young parents will be much better served. “Thanks to the housing supplement, we now have the funding to provide young parents in foster care with more spacious and appropriate accommodations, where they can safely live with their child.”
For JBAY Executive Director Amy Lemley, a key to the long term success of the housing supplement is that it is tied to cost of living, so that it will increase and keep pace with inflation. “At JBAY, we’re working to make long-term structural changes, to truly reform foster care and make it an experience that helps young people transition successfully into higher education and beyond.”