The Foster Care to Homelessness Pipeline

Is foster care a pipeline to homelessness?

Sadly, many youth who age out of foster care do become homeless. Young people in the foster care system often don’t receive the same educational and employment opportunities as other young people.

Although there is plenty of financial and organizational support for children in foster care, young adults are often neglected and have difficulty supporting themselves when they age out of the system. Many of these young adults become homeless.

Foster Care and Homelessness Statistics

What’s the extent of the link between foster care and homelessness? Here are some worrying statistics about foster care and homelessness that are worrying:


Homeless person sitting on the sidewalk

Federal Programs That Help Eradicate the Foster Care to Homelessness Pipeline

There are a variety of federal programs that seek to aim homelessness among young people who have exited the foster care system. These programs include:

Programs at Penny Lane 

For many young adults, turning 18 means going to college and looking forward to independence.  For others who age out of the foster care system, it means uncertain times and possibly facing homelessness with no family support.  Penny Lane Centers Housing Services Program offers transitional housing with a wide range of supportive services including case management and counseling, i.e. mental health and substance use disorder treatment, job training, and educational support as well as linkage to community resources.  

The Transitional Housing Placement Program for Non-Minor Dependents (THPP-NMD) is a placement option for those participating in extended foster care for youth ages 18-21 years old.  To qualify for this program, the youth must have an order for foster care placement on their 18th birthday and continue to be under the care of the county welfare department or county probation department, and have a transitional independent living case plan.

The Transitional Housing Program is supportive housing that helps fight the problem of youth homelessness. The Transitional Housing Program helps young adults aged 18 to 24 years find and maintain housing, with priority given to those formerly in the foster care or probation systems.  In this program, the former foster youth who has aged out of the foster care system and has a closed case can enroll in such a program for a period of 36 months and will be provided with supportive services, as mentioned before.

In recent years, supportive housing programs have become a popular means to support young people formerly in foster care. Permanent Supportive Housing is a form of subsidized housing; it provides long-term, affordable housing, and support services to people with disabilities or other special needs who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.  Penny Lane Centers offers a range of supportive services including linkage to mental health services, substance use disorder treatment, job training, and other community resources.

Permanent Supportive Housing

Our Permanent Supportive Housing program provides housing for people who are formerly homeless. Unlike a homeless shelter, permanent supportive housing provides people with stable, long-term housing so it’s easier for them to get back on their feet, personally and financially. We have our own property development company and we also work with other development companies to create housing communities and place participants. We also provide case management services that are designed to help a participant transition smoothly into their new housing community.

Housing Supported Services Program (HSSP)

The Housing Supported Services Program (HSSP) provides mental health services for people who are in Permanent Supportive Housing, and who suffer from mental illness or are recovering from substance use disorder.

We individualize our mental health care services for each case. By working to help our patients recover emotionally, we can increase the likelihood they’ll achieve personal and financial stability, and even economic mobility.

a large apartment building

Transitional Housing Program

Our Transitional Housing Program provides services for at-risk or homeless young adults aged 18-24. While they’re staying with us, we provide resources and education to help them become self-sufficient. These services include job skills training, life skills training, mental health services, medical care, and substance use disorder (SUD) treatment.

Transitional Housing Placement Program - Non-Minor Dependents 

Our Transitional Housing Placement Program is for young adults who have chosen to remain in the foster care system past their 18th birthday. We help these young adults prepare to transition to alternative housing options when they reach their 21st birthday. We provide plenty of services for these young people, including mental health care, substance use disorder treatment, and job placement.

Ways to Help Penny Lane Support Homeless Youth 

Even if you don’t know anyone currently or formerly in foster care, you can still help our organization make a difference.