Aging out of foster care – and into homelessness

Most adolescents in the U.S. gradually ease into adulthood with financial assistance and support from parents or other family members. However, as highlighted in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Housing for Youth Aging out of Foster Care, the transition to adulthood for young people aging out of foster care is much more abrupt.

At age 18, or 21 in some states, foster children become ineligible for most state-funded assistance. They are expected to become independent adults overnight.

Often carrying painful memories from their childhood, teenagers aging out of foster care face numerous adversities. As a group, they fare more poorly than their peers in areas such as education and employment. Research also indicates a high rate of homelessness and housing instability among this population.

While finding safe and affordable housing can be a challenge for anyone, the following barriers make this task even more difficult for those aging out of foster care:

  • inadequate income and assets
  • no family safety net
  • lack of relationships with supportive adults (In fact, feeling close to at least one adult family member reduced the odds of homelessness by age 19 by more than half!)
  • early parenthood
  • juvenile or criminal records
  • lack of preparation for independent living

In federal fiscal year 2010, nearly 28,000 individuals in the U.S. aged out of foster care! Read HUD’s full report to learn what is known about the housing and other needs of these young adults, information on how communities try to address the issue, and available state and local housing programs for this population.