Lexington foster care initiative gets national recognition


LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – An innovative Lexington program to help young people aging out of foster care to find housing and avoid homelessness has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“The Lexington Housing Authority, Commonwealth of Kentucky and City of Lexington and their partners are to be congratulated as their exemplary work during these extraordinarily challenging times is helping young people aging out of foster care have a place to call home and an opportunity to become self-sufficient,” said HUD Southeast Regional Administrator Denise Cleveland-Leggett.

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The agencies recently received $170,000 in total HUD Foster Youth Initiative grants that is being used to help 12 local foster youth aging out of foster care with housing options with the ultimate goal of helping a total of 23 foster youth obtain housing.

Cleveland-Leggett recognized the City of Lexington Housing Authority Executive Director Austin Simms, Eric Friedlander, Kentucky State Secretary Cabinet for Health & Family Services, City of Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton and Polly Ruddick, Lexington Fayette Urban County Government, Director of Office of Homelessness Prevention & Intervention.

“We are excited about this collaborative effort between the Urban County Government, the Housing Authority and the State Cabinet for Health & Family Services. It allows us to administer a program that can focus on the prevention of homelessness instead of a cure,” Simms said.

“This grant is a great example of the power of collaboration among the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, the Lexington Housing Authority and the Cabinet’s Department for Community Based Services, whose staff is providing support to these young adults in a manner that assists them in reaching their full human potential,” Freidlander said. “This project not only provides housing assistance. It gives youth on the cusp of adulthood more of the guidance and support they need as they confront new challenges and big decisions that come with independence.”

CHFS programs for youth aging out of foster care include career prep and job training, mentoring, employment, life skills development and policy advisory opportunities.

Friedlander added that the Lexington HUD grant is foundational to helping to provide these vital services.

“This is a new tool our City will use to prevent homelessness. Support from HUD is making it possible for us to offer a creative approach that will be effective with young people,” Gorton stated.

“Each person is unique, and the solutions are not one size fits all. This grant will help us provide individualized life plans to keep our valuable young people in housing, and that is critical to ultimately ending homelessness,” added Ruddick.

HUD’s Foster Youth to Independence (FYI) Initiative is a new initiative to target housing assistance to young people aging out of foster care and who are at extreme risk of experiencing homelessness.

HUD’s new Foster Youth to Independence (FYI) Initiative will offer housing vouchers to local public housing authorities to prevent or end homelessness among young adults under the age of 25 who are, or have recently left, the foster care system without a home to go to.