Don Patrick

Don Patrick of the not-for-profit North East Community Action Corporation discusses the Foster Youth to Independence vouchers that the agency will administer to help young people aging out of foster care avoid homelessness. Courtesy photo

TROY, Mo. – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded the not-for-profit North East Community Action Corp. $35,702 to assist young people aging out of foster care who are at risk of homelessness.

The award through HUD’s Foster Youth to Independence Initiative was announced Thursday, Feb. 13 in Troy by HUD Great Plains Regional Administrator Jason Mohr. It covers eligible NECAC clients in Lewis, Lincoln, Macon, Marion, Monroe, Montgomery, Pike, Ralls, Randolph, Shelby and Warren counties. NECAC was earlier awarded five Foster Youth to Independence Initiative housing vouchers for St. Charles County.

Mohr was joined by HUD Region 9 Administrator Chris Patterson, a former foster youth and the lead advocate for the initiative, and NECAC President and Chief Executive Officer Don Patrick.

The initiative offers housing rent-assistance vouchers to local public housing agencies to prevent or end homelessness among people ages 18 to 24 who are in, or have recently left, the foster care system without a home to go to.

“Youth leaving the foster care system should not have to experience the overwhelming obstacles of homelessness,” Mohr said. “These vouchers will not only provide stable housing but will lead to many more opportunities in their lives.”

“As a former foster care youth myself, having a safe and stable home made all the difference in my life,” Patterson said.  “Our young people are our future, and this investment assures that those in your community who age out of foster care into this program, will have a brighter future to look forward to.”

“NECAC is proud to be among the first public housing agencies to receive funding for the Foster Youth to Independence Initiative,” Patrick added. “NECAC has been a partner with HUD for more than 40 years in providing rent assistance to qualifying residents of 12 counties in Missouri. This new funding will help NECAC broaden its commitment to making sure more of our neighbors in need have decent, safe and affordable housing.”

The initiative requires that communities provide support services for the length of assistance to help youth achieve self-sufficiency. These activities center on basic life skills, landlord outreach and job preparation. Additionally, they will receive educational and career counseling, as well as counseling on program and lease compliance.  These supportive services are critical given that the assistance is time limited.

The public housing authorities must meet eligibility requirements. NECAC administers more than 2,400 rent assistance vouchers in its 12 Missouri counties.

HUD estimates that more than 20,000 young people age out of foster care each year. The National Center for Housing and Child Welfare estimates that approximately 25 percent of these young people experience homelessness within four years of leaving foster care and an even higher share are precariously housed.

More information about applying for a voucher is available by calling or visiting the a NECAC Service Center. The center in Pike County is at 805 Bus. Hwy. 61 North in Bowling Green and can be reached by phone at 573-324-2207.

Send questions and comments to athorp@pikecountynews.com.

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