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Charlotte Area News

Federal Grants To Reunite Homeless Children, Parents

Lack of housing is an underlying cause for thousands of children remaining in foster care nationwide. Greensboro's Housing Authority has received a federal grant of half a million dollars to reunite some of those families. On the official reports filed when a child is placed in foster care, you won't often find "homeless" as the primary reason for the placement. But you probably should. "What is actually a housing issue is disguised as another issue," says Steve Hayes, director of family and children services for Guilford County. "For example, a woman with children fleeing a domestic violence situation has a housing issue." Or a single parent who lost her job because of substance abuse and is now in treatment, but having trouble making the rent - that's a housing issue, too. Hayes says as many as a third of the children in Guilford County's foster care are there because their parent or guardian can't provide safe housing. Often they end up stuck in foster care because their parents may have resolved their issues but still can't find housing. "Our hope is that this grant will provide us the opportunity to provide some of these families, at least take off some of these burdens, so those families can stay together," says Hayes. A $531,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will help Guilford County and the Greensboro Housing Authority reunite about 100 families. Some $20 million in federal grants were distributed nationwide with the promise of placing nearly 5,000 homeless children with their families. A portion of those rental assistance vouchers will also be given to youth who age-out of the foster care system and end up homeless. Greensboro is the only housing authority in North Carolina to receive the grants this year. The Charlotte Housing Authority received similar funds last year.