New Complex Offers Affordable Independent Living Opportunity
Foster care can be a life-changing experience for many abused and neglected children. While in the foster system, children can find the structure, support, guidance, and compassion to heal from their early trauma.
But imagine what happens when a child ages out of the system — and winds up homeless. The hard-won gains of foster care can be undone in a flash.
Clark County, the State of Washington, and nonprofits like YWCA are collaborating to address this life-threatening gap in the system. With the opening of the 28-unit Caples Terrace affordable housing facility in Vancouver this month, the community got a good look at the product of that collaboration.
Providing a Home to Those Transitioning Out of Foster Care
Caples Terrace was conceived as a solution to the lack of decent housing for young people — aged 18 to 24 — who are aging out of foster care, and their families.
The complex was built by and is managed by the Vancouver Housing Authority. The three-story complex offers studio, 1- and 2-bedroom apartments, with rents based on the tenant’s income.
YWCA’s Independent Living Skills program is helping to identify tenants for the facility. ILS specializes in preparing foster youth ages 15 to 21 to successfully navigate the transition from state-supported care to independent living. ILS’s housing, education, and career support assistance keeps them on the path out of poverty as they enter adulthood.
Helping Young Adults Prepare for the Future
Finding reliable, affordable housing is critical to this transition. Caples Terrace is an ideal start for ILS’s participants. ILS’s Accessing Independence services help with budgeting, gaining access to classes and information, home furnishings, understanding lease agreements, and other basics needed to get started.
Kit Kuran, director of the ILS program, credits the Caples Terrace partners for having the vision to make this first-of-its-kind housing development a reality.
“ILS’s partnership with Caples Terrace is a wonderful opportunity as ILS has referred many youth with limited incomes to the housing complex, knowing that they will continue to receive support after they move in,” Kuran says. “These youth may otherwise have extreme difficulty locating safe and affordable housing. The stability that Caples Terrace can offer will help these young families improve the lives of their children and future generations, breaking the cycle of abuse and poverty that they may have grown up with.”
Caples Terrace management expects its units to be 100% leased before year-end. Ideally, up to 10 ILS participants will be among the new tenants. The need is far greater. But Caples Terrace, and the partnership behind it, represents a powerful move in the right direction. All parties agree there will be more Caples Terrace’s in Vancouver’s future.
YWCA Programs Change Lives
Now 20 years old, Alex came into state care at a young age because of abuse and neglect of his biological parents. His dad was incarcerated and his mom was unable to develop effective parenting skills. At the age of 13, Alex was already using drugs and had given up on school.
When he first connected with the YWCA’s Independent Living Skills program, he was very depressed. He cried almost every time he met with his Advocate. Alex decided that his first goal would be to try to get a job. His ILS Advocate helped him apply for jobs, prepare for interviews, purchase interview clothes, and drove him to interviews.
When Alex got a job in the food industry, it changed his life. He was clearly proud of his work and his ability to earn money. He stayed in his job for nearly a year and received a promotion. He saved up and purchased his first car. His ILS Advocate helped him get his driver’s license and car insurance.
Recently, he moved on to a better paying job in the food industry with more opportunities for advancement. He gets to be more creative and independent in his new role, and has begun to think more about a future career. Alex is also now dating a woman with children and has stepped up to become a parental figure in their lives. His Advocate is impressed with his parenting skills and how he is breaking the cycle of violence that he experienced growing up.