News Release: Agreement Leads to Over 2,100 Housing Vouchers for Child Welfare-Involved Families, Foster Youth

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Feb. 21, 2024

Agreement Leads to 2,100 Housing Vouchers for Child Welfare-Involved Families, Foster Youth

DCYF Secretary Ross Hunter with folks from the Public Housing Authorities and Housing non-profits.

DCYF Secretary Ross Hunter, DCYF staff, and folks from the public housing authority and housing non-profits came together on Feb. 15 in Olympia to sign an agreement to provide housing vouchers to child welfare-involved families and youth.

Olympia, WA – Over 1,500 child welfare-involved families and 600 eligible foster youth across Washington State will now have access to much-needed housing assistance thanks to a historic agreement between the Department of Children, Youth, and Families and a network of public housing authorities and housing non-profits.

The housing network pledged 2,167 federal housing vouchers and apartment units for families and youth involved with the child welfare system.

“Creating a system of housing supports for our families will improve equity of access to housing, leading to shortened time in care, prevention of dependencies, and improvement in youth transitions from foster care,” said DCYF Secretary Ross Hunter.

Secretary Hunter along with representatives of the public housing authorities and housing non-profits signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) last week, which will allow the agency to meet the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requirements needed to access vouchers under the Family Unification Program (FUP) and Foster Youth to Independence (FYI) voucher programs.

"We know that the lack of housing is a significant contributing factor for so many families who enter the dependency court system. It is likewise a serious barrier to reunifying children with their parents," Washington State Court Administrator Dawn Marie Rubio said at the signing ceremony.

The Administrative Office of the Courts played a critical role to bring all three branches of government together to come to this agreement. 

Over the years, there has been a lack of capacity in parts of the state, but through this partnership, DCYF and public housing authority and non-profits will now be able to serve more youth and families with housing statewide. Eligible families and youth will receive referrals from their DCYF caseworker to a contracted provider who will help them locate housing that accepts vouchers.

Michael Mirra, retired executive director of the Tacoma Housing Authority and co-chair of the Housing and Child Welfare Subcommittee, said the agreement will imbed housing into the child welfare system.  

“It will spare children and families from the trauma of avoidable out-of-home placement, it will house teenagers coming from foster care or juvenile rehabilitation who would otherwise start their independent adulthood by becoming homeless, it will help the state’s child welfare workers perform what may be the hardest job in public service; and it will save the state money in averted foster care costs,” he explained.

Lowel Krueger, executive director of the Yakima Housing Authority said folks from the Association of Washington Housing Authorities were grateful for all of the partners who "persisted in establishing this innovative collaboration to provide families involved in the child welfare system with housing, a critical first step in helping families and changing life outcomes for children."

DCYF’s ability to begin to provide the contracted Housing Supportive Services that are necessary to fulfill its commitment to HUD was made possible through $8 million in investments from the Legislature.

“We are excited to sign this historic document with all the partnerships and what it means for the families we serve,” said Hunter. “When our youth and families are supported, they thrive, preventing deeper penetration into the child welfare system.”


DCYF Secretary Ross Hunter with folks from the Housing Authorities photo

DCYF Secretary Ross Hunter Signing MOU photo



Nancy Gutierrez, Communications Administrator | | 360-742-6418