Senator Wiener’s Legislation to Fund Housing for Homeless and At-Risk Youth Included in Governor’s Budget Proposal

May 17, 2021

SACRAMENTO – Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco)’s SB 234, the SUPPORT Act (Supporting Underserved Young People for Positive Resets and Transitions), has been incorporated into Governor Newsom’s proposed budget, announced on Friday. The governor’s May Revise includes $200 million, an increase from SB 234’s original $100 million proposal, to fund new housing, or acquire existing housing, for transition age youth between ages 16 and 26. The housing will be targeted toward young people who are homeless, in or exiting foster care, or exiting the criminal justice system. The money will come from the State’s Homekey grant program. 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 funding 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. Governor Newsom’s revised budget now heads to the Legislature, who will need to pass a balanced budget by June 15.

“This is a historic investment in our transition age youth,” said Senator Wiener. “I am thrilled that Governor Newsom has recognized the urgent need for our state to address youth homelessness, and I will continue to fight for a secure future for this vulnerable part of our population.”

“Larkin Street Youth Services is pleased to see youth experiencing homelessness made visible in the Governor’s budget,” said Sherilyn Adams, Executive Director of Larkin Street Youth Services. “With capital funding set aside specifically for youth experiencing homelessness, youth providers can create the housing options that young people need most. Too often, young people are unseen and left out of investments to address homelessness, so we thank Governor Newsom and Senator Wiener for their hard work on this critical issue.”

“SB 234 is a significant investment that moves the needle in building up our capacity to support our most vulnerable youth; especially our unaccompanied children and youth, and young families experiencing homelessness at this very moment,” said Jevon Wilkes, Executive Director of California Coalition for Youth. “This is the example of how ‘California Roars Back’ now and for years to come.”

“Capital resources dedicated to creating housing for young people, including those involved with the child welfare system, are a critical foundational support,” said Ted Lempert, President and CEO of Children Now. “We must ensure that youth have the developmentally appropriate and supportive housing options available to them that they deserve. This is why Children Now has been working with Senator Wiener on SB 234 to strengthen youth’s access to a continuum of housing options.”

“[SB 234} will give [foster youth] more opportunity to have a positive contribution on society,” said Alejandra Gomez, a former foster youth, and Youth Specialist at California Coalition for Youth. “This is not only a short-term goal, this is a long-term goal for foster youth. This gives us more opportunities to not have to rely so much on the system, but gives us opportunities to grow and to be able to be beautiful people that are contributing to society, that are going to be the next leaders.”

“Youth such as me deserve long-term, preventative housing solutions in order to be self-sufficient, independent beings.” said Zemaye Jacobs, a former foster youth, and a Youth Advisory Board member with Larkin Street Youth Services. “Our community’s due diligence is to be here for each other, to uplift each other in varying situations, and to meet youth with equitable services when they are without support.”