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HUD Grant to Help OR Fight Youth Homelessness


Monday, November 29, 2021   

SALEM, Ore. - Funds from the federal government are helping communities, including two in Oregon, tackle youth homelessness.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is awarding $142 million to support a range of housing efforts for young people. That includes $3.7 million for the Mid-Willamette Valley Homeless Alliance's work in Marion and Polk counties.

Jan Calvin, a consultant with the alliance, said they're currently in the six-month planning phase for using the grant. She noted one important aspect will be addressing the needs of youths formerly in the foster-care system.

"A house doesn't end homelessness," said Calvin. "So, additional supports are needed, and some that may not have been learned in such a tenuous setting, and moving so often and having different relationships with people."

HUD also is distributing $3.3 million to the Eugene and Springfield area. The grants will reach 33 communities across the nation in total.

Calvin said young people who aren't housed, especially folks from foster care who may be independent for the first time, face a number of barriers.

"Whether it's transportation, other stigma and bias stereotypes that come into play," said Calvin. "There can be legal issues and there can be criminal-justice issues."

Calvin said while COVID-19 has presented challenges, it also has created opportunities, forcing efforts like hers to get creative.

She said the Mid-Willamette Valley Homeless Alliance has put the feedback of young people with lived experience front and center while developing a plan for this grant, and getting that feedback during the pandemic has involved communicating online through applications such as Zoom.

"Young people might even feel safer being behind a camera in a comfortable setting telling those folks," said Calvin, "including other young people, what we need to know in order to do good planning."

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Pictured in the center is Francine "Fran" Pace, one of 11 graduates of this summer's Youth Leadership Academy for Iowans with disabilities. (Photo courtesy of DD Council).

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