“With a little bit of help you can make it anywhere”: One young-adult paves the way for others who are aging out of foster care
WICOMICO COUNTY, Md.- On Friday, leaders in Wicomico County gathered to announce a new project called the Foster to Youth Independence Initiative.
This initiative, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, aims to help those who are aging out of foster care.
“HUD has allowed them an opportunity now to receive funding to have their own place to live as they move from being with other families, now on their own,” Mark Thompson, Chairman of the Wicomico County Housing Authority, said.
Amber Bell was the first person in Maryland to receive this funding.
“I know a lot of people who really need this help, but I know I’m just the stepping stone or sort of the paved way to a bigger beginning,” Bell said.
Through this initiative, recipients like Amber get a voucher that provides them with housing for a few years, giving those aging out of foster care one less thing to worry about.
“Giving foster youth three years, give them a hand up and then hopefully to get the services around them, so they can get job training and all the types of skills necessary,” Joe DeFelice, Regional Administrator, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Region III, said.
We’re told this project is critical, especially because homelessness is part of a bigger issue.
“The foster youth in this country have been under served and this is just an extra step up to give that assistance that they so desperately need,” Don Bibb, Executive Director of Wicomico County Housing Authority
As for Bell, she just hopes that this assistance let’s people, like herself, know that if you have the right mindset and know there is help out there the opportunities are endless.
“You have to have the mindset that’s really no one can take anything away from me, and I can get everything not by myself but with a little bit of help you can make it anywhere,” Bell said.
I am told that before the end of this year the county will see probably 25 more young-adults transition out of foster care that may need this assistance.
This is why leaders are hoping to get more money to continue these services.
We’re told, since July of 2019, HUD has awarded more than $5.4 million dollars and 677 vouchers nationwide to assist young adults.
HUD estimates that more than 20-thousand young people age out of foster care each year.