Adding to her package of bills focused on solutions to homelessness and the first in a series of bills to be announced focused on housing access and affordability, Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo, D-Chatsworth, has introduced a new bill, Assembly Bill 963, focused on funding affordable housing development for former foster youth.
In a recent survey of California foster youth, one-quarter of former foster youth experienced homelessness in California between the ages of 21-23, with an additional 28% reporting that they had “couch surfed,” according to seminal research. More broadly, nearly one in three transition-age foster youth in California experiences homelessness.
“By leveraging the backing of the state for low-risk loans to build more affordable housing serving foster youth, California will be able to accelerate housing construction while supporting thousands of foster youth with the goal of forestalling homelessness,” said Schiavo in a prepared statement. “One easy step in addressing our homeless crisis is an investment in prevention. That is, doing everything we can to make sure foster youth have an affordable place to live after leaving foster care.”
AB 963 would: require the California Infrastructure Bank (IBank) to establish one or more programs to guarantee qualified loans for construction of housing for current or former foster youth; provide guidance for prioritizing loan guarantees; outline the extent to which the state guarantees loan reimbursement in the event of default; and allow the IBank to adopt regulations to administer the programs
“AB 963 will expand the number of affordable housing units available to former foster youth struggling with housing security,” said Schiavo. “AB 963 does so by establishing an unfunded loan guarantee program to provide security to qualified lenders financing the development and acquisition of housing for current and former foster youth ages 18 to 25.”
Both the federal and state government have invested in ensuring foster youth, and those transitioning out of the system, can access affordable housing. These include programs like the Independent Living Program, Transitional Housing Placement Program for Non-Minor Dependents, HUD’s Foster Youth to Independence Initiative, and the Transitional Housing Program-Plus. Some of these programs use housing rented, or controlled by, nonprofits, and others provide vouchers that can be used by the foster youth for rental assistance.
While California has both grant and tax credit programs that support affordable housing, the opportunity here is to draw commercial debt and equity investments from the private and philanthropic sectors to develop and acquire affordable housing designed to support transition-aged foster youth, Schiavo’s statement said.