HUD Recognizes City of Lexington and Commonwealth of Kentucky for exemplary implementation of the Foster Youth Independence Initiative

HUD Southeast Regional Administrator Denise 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 and partners for the recent award of over $170,000 in total HUD Foster Youth Initiative grants that was utilized to expeditiously assist 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.

“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.

Austin Simms, Executive Director of the Housing Authority said, “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. We commend Denise Cleveland Leggett, HUD Regional Administrator for initiating a conference call of some 20+ advocates and creating the opportunity to discuss and collaborate best practices and how to effect improvements to this valuable program.”

Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Eric Friedlander said the housing grant for Lexington-area youth complements the work of his staff and other advocates who are helping youth to transition from foster care to stability.

“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.

City of Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton stated, “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.”

Polly Ruddick, Lexington Fayette Urban County Gov. Director of Office of Homelessness Prevention & Intervention added, “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.”

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. Read HUD's notice.

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