Colorado lawmakers to consider $5 million proposal to target youth homelessness after current programs fall short |

Colorado lawmakers to consider $5 million proposal to target youth homelessness after current programs fall short

On a typical day in Colorado, there are about 600 homeless children and 262 homeless young adults ages 18 to 24

Shannon Najmabadi and Jennifer Brown
The Colorado Sun
Olivia Potter, 19, looks out the second-story window of her downtown Montrose apartment. Potter, who spent time in foster care, got help finding housing through the CASA office in Montrose County.
William Woody/Special to The Colorado Sun

Colorado lawmakers will consider creating a new housing voucher program specifically for young people who have been in foster care, part of a $5 million proposal to fight youth homelessness. 

The pitch from the Colorado Department of Human Services, presented Thursday to the legislative committee that crafts the state budget, is to fund 100 housing vouchers as well as new homelessness prevention programs. 

Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, an Arvada Democrat and chair of the Joint Budget Committee, previously told The Colorado Sun she was working with the office of Gov. Jared Polis on legislation to create the voucher program, which she intends to introduce after the legislature reconvenes in January. Polis, a Democrat, called for investments in housing vouchers and supportive services for former foster youth and people transitioning out of residential facilities in his budget proposal for the coming year.

About a third of former foster children who emancipate from the system experience homelessess by the time they reach age 26, likely due more to abuse or instability they experienced as a child than contact with the foster system itself, a state budget analyst told lawmakers on the budget committee. An estimated 20% become homeless as soon as they emancipate from the child welfare system at age 18.

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