Commemorates Foster Youth Initiative Annual Anniversary
This week HUD Region IV Administrator Denise Cleveland-Leggett held a congratulatory call coinciding with the annual anniversary of HUD's Foster Youth to Independence program with Christopher Hagans a recent FYI participant who now resides at the Lexington Housing Authority (LHA). After hearing his story, she wanted to reach out personally to congratulate him and provide words of encouragement as he begins his journey of reaching self-sufficiency in adulthood. Senior staff from LHA were also on the call and include: Austin Simms, Executive Director, Beverly Bowens, FYI Program Coordinator, and Aldean Pleasant, Housing Choice Voucher Manager.
"We are on a mission to further help the young people in this country. I want to personally congratulate you as you exemplify why these efforts are a worthy pursuit," said Denise Cleveland-Leggett to Mr. Hagans.
Hagans is an exemplary FYI participant who intends to reach his goals under the program. Now just 22 years old, he is enrolled in college studying towards both a degree in social work and a technical certification. He has successfully maintained part-time employment while enrolled in school and serves as a member of Voices of Commonwealth, a group of current and former foster youth who advocate for positive change for youth who are in the state's care. Ultimately, he would like to become a business owner of a foster youth supportive services program or an independent living agency.
Ms. Cleveland-Leggett is committed, along with HUD's Region X Regional Administrator Chris Patterson who is leading the initiative nationwide, in working to ensure youth aging out of foster care have the tools and resources to avoid homelessness. Cleveland-Leggett is doing her part to make sure that her region in the Southeastern states continues to be focused on the issue.
Under the leadership of Cleveland-Leggett, the HUD Kentucky team has established and will capture measures of success for the FYI vouchers given in Lexington. This call was the third of six events of a strategic plan that the HUD Kentucky Field Office has undertaken to raise awareness and forge buy-in from both internal and external stakeholders. The hope is to provide a national best practice that maximizes voucher utilization and ultimately lowers the number of foster youths who are at risk for becoming homeless.