Senator Wiener’s Legislation to Fund Housing for Homeless and At-Risk Youth Passes Senate Committee on Human Services

March 9, 2021

SACRAMENTO – Today, SB 234 — the SUPPORT Act, authored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) — passed the Senate Committee on Human Services by a vote of 4-0. SB 234 creates a $100 million forgivable loan program to fund new housing, or acquire existing housing, for transition age youth between ages 16 and 26. The housing will serve young people who are homeless, in or exiting foster care, or exiting the criminal justice system. SB 234 is co-sponsored by the Alliance for Children’s Rights, California Coalition for Youth, Children Now, and GRACE/End Child Poverty in California.

Transition age youth face extremely high rates of housing instability and homelessness, which makes it difficult to pursue education or employment opportunities and therefore the chance to become self-sufficient. Foster youth and justice-involved youth are particularly at risk for homelessness. Though California funds extended foster care programs for those aged 18-21, there is a dearth of proper funding for supportive housing reserved for young people transitioning to adulthood.

The legislation will help remove financial barriers to construction and acquisition for many affordable housing developers. Housing projects eligible for this funding will address both our long-term housing crisis and our more pressing housing needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic for vulnerable transition age youth. Fifty percent of the funds will be earmarked for projects that serve extended foster care youth age 18-21. The Senate Human Services Committee passed the bill unanimously and re-referred it to the Senate Committee on Housing.

“It is imperative for California to act on the homelessness crisis our transitional age youth face,” Senator Wiener said. “I am thrilled that SB 234 passed its hearing in Human Services today. COVID-19 has left these young people extremely vulnerable to ending up on the street, and their safety and livelihood will continue to be a top priority for me.”

“Senator Wiener’s SUPPORT Act tackles the stubborn issue of youth homelessness by creating safe and supportive housing for our transition age youth,” said Kristin Power, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy for the Alliance for Children’s Rights. “We’re thrilled to partner with Senator Wiener as he leads this effort to prioritize populations whose housing needs have been particularly underserved.”

“For far too long, young people in foster care have needlessly experienced housing instability and homelessness, which leads to increased trauma, as a result,” said Susanna Kniffen, Senior Director of Child Welfare for Children Now. “We are excited to co-sponsor this bill and see policymakers considering innovative solutions that have huge potential to support some of California’s young people who are most at-risk and to help them thrive.”