housing

Harris County breaks ground on a facility for youth aging out of the foster care system

The complex will have 89 units for youth aging out of the foster care system and provide residents with wrap-around services.

A rendering of Sunrise Lofts, a transitional housing complex being built in southeast Houston.

A new housing complex made for youth aging out of the foster care system broke ground in Southeast Houston on Monday.

The Tejano Center for Community Concerns has worked with public and private partners — including the city of Houston, Harris County, the Texas General Land Office and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development — to develop Sunrise Lofts, a transitional housing complex for foster youth in their late teens and early 20s.

The complex will have 89 units with one to three bedrooms to accommodate tenants with families, and will provide residents with resources like workforce training, counseling services and educational opportunities, according to Adrienne Holloway, the executive director of Harris County's Community Services Department.

“It’s gonna provide them with the necessary resources that will help build their future,” Holloway said. “That’s what we want all our children to experience, so why not the children who are aging out of foster care, who need additional help to get to that path to lead thriving lives?”

The project received $1.5 million from Houston City Council in July, combining funds with Harris County and the Coalition for Supportive Housing for a total of $26 million, officials said. In a statement, Mayor Sylvester Turner said the location of the complex would allow residents “to live and thrive.”

"These homes are strategically located to have great access to downtown Houston, TSU, and UH in the Third Ward, and our many innovation hubs, where some of our greatest ideas are being incubated as we speak,” the statement read.

According to research from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, those who experienced foster care in Texas had worse outcomes compared to those in other states and their peers in Texas' general population, and were more likely to be unemployed, homeless or high school dropouts.

In 2018, about 62% of the state’s general population were able to obtain a full-time or part-time job, compared to 48% of the state’s foster care population. Additionally, 90% of the state’s general population obtained their high school diploma or GED, compared to only 72% of the state’s foster care population.

The housing complex aims to directly address and mitigate this reality, according to Adriana Tamez, CEO of the Tejano Center for Community Concerns.

“This is a very vulnerable population,” Tamez said. “This is just another example of the work that we do with the Tejano Center to make sure that we meet the holistic needs of everyone we serve.”

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