HUD’s Family Unification Program (FUP) is the only national housing program aimed at preventing family separation due to homelessness and easing the transition to adulthood for aging-out youth. In the past three years, HUD has awarded more than 5,000 new Section 8 vouchers to public housing authorities nationwide in partnership with their local public child welfare agencies. FUP was signed into law in 1990 and received a steady stream of funding from 1992-2001. Congress re-established funding for this important program in 2008.
Since funding for FUP was re-established in 2008, over 9,000 children have been reunited with their families. Additionally, more than 500 youth have been provided with safe, decent, independent apartments to ease their transition to adulthood from foster care.
As you know, the need for additional housing assistance for vulnerable families is growing. In the absence of an adequate supply of FUP vouchers to intervene and end youth and family homelessness, child welfare agencies are placed in the unenviable position of separating families in order to protect the children from the lingering effects of homelessness. This is a costly solution to homelessness both in terms of the emotional impact upon each child and the cost to the taxpayer.
FUP Cost Savings and Support for Youth and Families
Nationally, the average family involved in the child welfare system has 2.7 children. The cost of keeping the children of one family of this size in foster care is $47,608 annually. The average cost for a FUP voucher and supportive services (services which are paid for out of child welfare funding streams – not HUD’s budget) for a family of this size for one year would be a fraction of this cost at approximately $13,412. In fact, recent research has demonstrated that a federal investment to address the housing and social services needs of the families who are separated due to homelessness would save the U.S. $1.94 billion annually (Harburger & White, 2004).
According to a study conducted in Denver, CO, it is a tenth of the cost to provide affordable housing to young people when compared to residential care or a juvenile justice placement (Urban Peak, 2004).
Additionally, youth aging out of the child welfare system are confronted with the harsh reality of the gap between the wages they are qualified to earn and the cost of housing. Consequently, these young people are entering the ranks of the homeless at a rate of anywhere from 12 to 25%. Congress added this group of young people to the population eligible for FUP in 2000. Communities across the country can use FUP to support successful transitions to adulthood and self-sufficiency for this vulnerable group of young people.
Recognizing the critical importance of housing assistance programs, child welfare workers rely upon partnerships with faith based agencies, local non-profit housers, and public housing authorities to access housing subsidies for these families and youth. Primary among these partnerships, of course, is the Family Unification Program (FUP).
The Future of Funding for FUP
We urge you to reach out to Appropriations Committee members and ask that they set aside a minimum of $15 million in the FY2014 budget for new FUP vouchers for the purpose promoting family unification, easing the transition to adulthood for foster youth, and achieving significant cost savings.
About the National Center for Housing and Child Welfare
The National Center for Housing and Child Welfare (NCHCW) links housing resources and knowledge to child welfare agencies in order to improve family functioning, prevent family homelessness, and reduce the need for out-of-home placement. The Center’s work also includes a focus on youth permanency and independent living to ensure that older youth in foster care have a connection to permanent family as well as a solid plan for stable housing and services to help them be successful as adults.
For More information about NCHCW or the Family Unification Program contact the National Center for Housing and Child Welfare:
National Center for Housing and Child Welfare
6711 Queens Chapel Rd.
University Park, MD 20782
Phone 301-699-0151 Toll Free 1-866-790-6766