HOUSTON, TX - Every year, about 26,000 children in the United States "age-out" of foster care, putting them at risk for homelessness, drug abuse, domestic violence, and poverty.
Houston's Tejano Center for Community Concerns, which operates a homeless and foster care program serving 150 children annually, wants to change that statistic. Tejano Center, in collaboration with The Vecino Group, plans to provide permanent supportive housing for homeless young adults in Houston, including those aging out of foster care.
The Tejano Center was awarded a $500,000 Affordable Housing Program (AHP) grant from Amegy Bank and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas) to help fund construction of the 52-unit Sunrise Orchard Apartments for homeless young adults between the ages of 18 and 25.
The $9.3 million complex will be located on land owned by Tejano Center at 5300 Sunrise Road in Houston. The center will also use federal tax credits to fund construction of the complex.
Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in early 2016 and take about 12 months to complete. The apartments will include geothermal heating and cooling, a water collection system and vegetable gardens. In addition to one-bedroom units, the complex will include eight two-bedroom units available to young adults with children.
Mayra Bontemps, housing programs director at Tejano Center, said the "aged-out" population often faces its own set of challenges.
She explained that while youth in foster care can opt to stay under the care of the state until they are 21, they often leave upon turning 18. They don't realize the difficulties they face being out on their own without a support network to help them navigate the complexities of life, Ms. Bontemps said.
"It's kind of scary to think you are completely on your own at that age," she said.
Tejano Center has organized partnerships with several social service agencies such as SER Jobs for Progress to provide services to residents. The onsite staff will include two case managers to help residents obtain life skills training, educational opportunities, job training, child care and other supportive services.
Brian Stoker, senior vice president of Community Lending at Amegy Bank, said the new housing complex provides the support young people at risk for homelessness need to become successful adults.
"When you think about it, most young adults have some sort of family connection they go to for emotional, educational, and financial support well into young adulthood," Mr. Stoker said. "These young people are on their own at a very young age, but the new Sunrise Apartments will provide the support services they need to become successful adults. It's a great concept."
In 2015, FHLB Dallas, in partnership with its member financial institutions, like Amegy Bank, has awarded more than $7.4 million in AHP grants to 32 projects, primarily within its District of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas. The funding will create or rehabilitate 965 housing units.
Greg Hettrick, vice president and director of Community Investment at FHLB Dallas, said members make a real impact in their communities.
"FHLB Dallas is gratified to support Amegy Bank in this project that will serve a vulnerable population," he said. "The power of partnership will make a difference for these young adults and provide housing at a critical time in their lives."
FHLB Dallas annually returns 10 percent of its profits in the form of AHP grants to the communities served by its member institutions. AHP grants fund a variety of projects, including home rehabilitation and modifications for low-income, elderly, and special needs residents; down payment and closing cost assistance for qualified first-time homebuyers; and the construction of low-income, multifamily rental communities and single-family homes.
July 2015 marked the 25th anniversary of the Affordable Housing Program. Since the program's inception, FHLB Dallas has awarded more than $237 million in AHP grants to help approximately 44,000 families obtain affordable, quality housing.