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March 2022Vol. 23, No. 2Supportive Housing for Youth Formerly in Foster Care

A recent evaluation funded by the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation within the U.S Department of of Health and Human Services sought to learn about permanent supportive housing (PSH) programs specifically for youth formerly in foster care. The study report describes results from a nationwide scan of housing programs that follow the PSH model, which focuses on providing low-barrier affordable housing and supportive services for an indefinite period of time to youth at risk of homelessness.

The evaluation used interviews and focus groups to understand the range of current programs that follow the PSH model, learn about how they operate, and identify ways to conduct future evaluations. Seven research questions guided the interviews and focus groups:

  • What design features characterize PSH programs that serve the general population of young people at risk of homelessness?
  • What challenges does providing PSH to young people formerly in foster care pose?
  • What successes have providers of PSH to young people formerly in foster care experienced?
  • How do young people perceive the programs, and do their perceptions match staff perceptions?
  • What are key program design features that should be sustained or modified?
  • For whom is PSH appropriate?
  • What should PSH programs consider to prepare for an evaluation?
According to the study's findings, most PSH programs varied in design but shared the goal of providing safe and stable housing to young people at risk of homelessness over the short or long term. Challenges associated with such programs included engaging youth and forming relationships with them.