Friedman’s Bill to Help Foster Youth Access Housing Passes

This week, the Legislature passed Assembly Bill 1979 by Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) to increase the housing options available to foster youth enrolled in the Extended Foster Youth Program.
“California’s foster youth are particularly vulnerable during our housing crisis, and the economic fallout of COVID-19 has only exacerbated the challenges they face,” said Friedman said. “Since taking office in 2016, I’ve been working to break down the bureaucratic barriers in our foster care system to ensure that transition-age foster youth have safe, stable housing and the support that they need as they grow into adulthood.”
Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, who coauthored the bill, said: “We have a clear moral obligation to ensure that our most vulnerable young people have access to housing and essential services, especially during a global pandemic.”
California was one of the first states to opt-in to the federal opportunity created by the Federal Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoption Act by creating the Extended Foster Youth Program in 2010. The expansion of services has shown numerous benefits over the past decade — from improvements in education and employment, to reductions in pregnancy and incarceration.
However, reports have found that transition-age foster youth are still facing barriers when it comes to their housing. Over 35 percent of transition-age foster youth report being homeless while being actively enrolled in extended foster care.
AB 1979 strengthens the safety net for foster youth by requiring counties to take stock of their housing options, streamline the approval process for housing and supportive services, ensure that the immediate housing needs of at-risk youth are being met, and promoting overall housing stability to reduce their risk of falling into homelessness.
A broad range of local governments and advocacy organizations, as well as children’s law groups and juvenile court officials supports AB 1979.
“AB 1979 aligns our successful Extended Foster Care program with the realities of today’s complex housing market, where one in three former foster youth are at risk of housing insecurity due to high rent and lack of affordable housing options,” said Cathy Senderling-McDonald, Deputy Executive Director of the County Welfare Directors Association of California. “With Governor Newsom’s signature, youth aging out of foster care will have more options for housing in addition to the financial and social worker support they can already receive up to age 21, so they can make successful transitions into adulthood.”
The measure passed the California Legislature with unanimous, bipartisan support and now awaits a signature from Governor Newsom.