Since the economic downturn in late 2008, the headlines about foreclosures and unemployment have become familiar and all too commonplace. What is less known is that the economy has fractured many families, separating parents and children. Now, a $20 million HUD grant hopes to reunite more than 5,000 homeless youngsters with their parents and provide affordable housing to another 750 young people leaving foster care.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) award supports partnerships between public housing authorities and local child welfare agencies across the country. The program is known as Family Unification Program and provides local child welfare organizations with resources to prevent family homelessness or reunite families who have been unable to regain custody of their children primarily due to housing issues.
Some youngsters have been channeled into foster care, a far more costly and traumatic alternative. One Connecticut mother, Teresa Russell, is pleased by the prospect that there is such a program of support to offer her family relief. “Having a voucher would make me more independent and able to keep my family together under one roof. Without a voucher I would not afford my rent,” she said. “I would be homeless and not able to keep my children together.”
“Finding and keeping affordable housing is a challenge for many parents and this lack of stability can result in breaking up families and placing children in foster care,” said Senator Patty Murray. “These vouches will help families in Washington state and across the country live under the same roof while they work to get back on their feet. And they are a strong step forward in our national goal to end homelessness.”
Photo by D Sharon Pruitt via Flickr.