DECEMBER 14, 2022


In Mississippi, hundreds of foster youth transitioning to adulthood struggle with having a place to sleep each night and are at risk of becoming homeless.  Thanks to unprecedented collaboration, the opportunity for Mississippi’s foster youth to successfully transition into adulthood is becoming a reality.

On December 5, 2022, Tennessee Valley Regional Housing Authority (TVRHA), Executive Director, Jason Spencer introduced a new housing opportunity to other public housing authorities (PHA’s) who administer the Housing Choice Voucher program throughout the State of Mississippi.  The Foster Youth to Independence (FYI) Voucher program, available to PHA’s through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), assist youth who are aging out of foster care to transition into an independent living environment.  Last December, TVRHA became the first housing authority in the State of Mississippi to successfully lease FYI vouchers. To date, 5 young adults have leased their first rental units within TVRHA’s jurisdiction.

A wide variety of organizations within the state worked for months to forge a process for leasing FYI vouchers and determine the supports necessary to assist these youth in transitioning to independence.  The statewide coalition included Hope Rising Mississippi, Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services, TVRHA and housing service providers, First Place for Youth, Youth Villages and others.  State and local agencies, organizations, faith-based groups and community members all stepped in to offer basic necessities and mentoring for the youth.  This included help with utility deposits, furniture, food, transportation, and other essentials necessary to give these youth with a launchpad to successfully pursue their goals into the future.

These and other efforts are part of a wide collaboration of local and state agencies and organizations administered by Hope Rising Mississippi. Mississippi Programs of HOPE members collaborate on projects like this that help Mississippians achieve their brighter tomorrow.

QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS: Cindy Cheeks, Director of Program Operations, Hope Rising MS