The Signal

Schiavo introduces bill to support former foster youth


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.

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