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May 2016Vol. 17, No. 3Preventing Homelessness Among Youth Aging Out of Care

Over 20,000 youth exit or "age out" of foster care each year once they reach the age of maturity in their particular State. Many of these young people may not have the supports and assistance they need to successfully transition to adulthood, and they may find it particularly difficult to secure safe and stable housing. A study by Mathematica Policy Research and Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago examined public resources and policies that address homelessness among youth aging out of care.

Conducted on behalf of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of Policy Development and Research and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, the study relays the following key findings:

  • Stable housing is important yet elusive for youth aging out of foster care. Researchers estimate that 11 to 36 percent of youth who age out of foster care become homeless, and 25 to 50 percent experience unstable housing arrangements.
  • Policies and programs offer few housing opportunities for youth exiting foster care. HHS and HUD each offer some key programs and policies to support youth exiting foster care; however, communities must often combine Federal funding with State, local, and private funding to develop housing programs for transitioning youth.
  • HUD's Family Unification Program (FUP) has promise for supporting youth but is not widely applied to this population. Less than half of all public housing authorities administering FUP are serving youth, instead directing this form of rental assistance to families involved in child welfare.
  • Public housing authorities are not serving more youth largely because public child welfare agencies are referring relatively few or no young adults to them.

Access the report Housing for Youth Aging Out of Foster Care and other background materials on HUD's website at