Isabel Hernandez has a lot to balance.
Not able to afford a home for her family, she spent a couple of weeks floundering. Some nights she couch surfed with relatives; others she spent in her car.
That’s when a friend told her about the state’s Young Adult Housing Program. For Hernandez and others who are eligible, the program provides housing assistance and weekly money-management advice from a caseworker.
The Washington State Department of Commerce’s housing subsidy program serves people ages 18 to 24 who typically pay a share of their income or a portion of the rent while they get on their feet. Recipients leave the program once they meet goals they outlined with a caseworker, typically within 18 to 24 months.
Because of the Young Adult Housing Program, Hernandez was able to move into her new place about four months ago with her two boys, ages 1 and 3.
“It’s a one-bedroom apartment. It’s just me and my two kids. It’s home,” she said.
But the future of the program that helps Hernandez and other struggling young adults is uncertain. While the governor’s and House Democrats’ proposed 2017–19 budgets include money to support the program, the Senate Republicans’ budget would eliminate all $1.5 million for the program, said Kim Justice, director of the state’s Office of Homeless Youth Prevention and Protection.
Justice said she worries that as state lawmakers rightfully invest billions of dollars in K-12 education, the way they balance the budget could leave vulnerable young adults behind.