CHARLOTTE AMALIE — The Virgin Islands Department of Human Services (DHS) announced today that they have partnered with the Virgin Islands Housing Authority (VIHA) to implement the Territory’s first housing assistance program for youth who have left (aged out of) the foster care system and are at risk of becoming homeless. This is especially great news during Foster Care Awareness Month.
National statistics show that more than 25% of former foster children become homeless within two to four years after emancipation, and an even higher percentage often experience unsafe or unstable living situations. The Foster Youth to Independence (FYI), initiative enacted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), makes Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) assistance available to Public Housing Agencies such as the Virgin Islands Housing Authority in partnership with Public Child Welfare Agencies such as the Department of Human Services.
In the USVI, the requirements to qualify for the FYI initiative include individuals who are at least 18 years old and
not more than 24 years of age (have not reached their 25th birthday) who left foster care or will leave foster care
within 90 days in accordance with their Foster Care Transition Plan and who are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless.
All youth for the FYI program are referred to VIHA by the DHS Division of Children and Family Services. Per the V.I. statute, the vouchers can be used to provide housing assistance for up to three years (36 months). In addition to the rental assistance, these young people will also be provided with supportive services to assist them on their path to self-sufficiency. These supportive services may include:
- Basic life skills information: Money management counseling, credit etiquette, housekeeping,
nutrition / meal preparation, and healthcare access.
- Compliance counseling with rental lease requirements and with HCV program participant
requirements, including assistance/referrals for assistance with: Security deposits, utility installation
fees and utility deposits.
- Job preparation and attainment counseling: Where to look / how to apply, dress / grooming, and
relationship skills with supervisors and personnel, etc.
- Educational and career advancement counseling: Attainment of general equivalency diploma
(GED), maintaining attendance, financing of education at a technical school / trade school / college,
and successful work ethic training and attitude models.
To secure longer term housing assistance, individuals participating in the program may apply and become eligible
for the regular Housing Choice Voucher Program (also known as Section 8), as long as income requirements are
This cross-departmental partnership between DHS and VIHA aims to prevent and end homelessness among atrisk youth with a history of out-of-home care. The DHS Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is currently
working to identify and refer eligible youth to VIHA for certification and eligibility and to connect them to resources
and support services.
Housing options under the FYI program are not limited to public housing facilities. Eligible participants will also
have the option to transfer their vouchers to another approved US jurisdictions.
For more information, please call or email the Department of Human Services DCFS:
• (St. Croix) – (340) 773-5303
• (St. Thomas/St. John) – (340) 473-5794 *Either number may be called for general information.
• Email: email@example.com
The Department of Human Services (VIDHS) exists to provide social services to members in our community with
diverse needs. In times of national uncertainty and hardship we act as a safety-net and exist to inspire hope and
empower change through non-judgmental, quality delivery of needed services and resources. Please visit the
Department of Human Services website, www.dhs.gov.vi for more information.
For more information on COVID-19, please visit covid19usvi.com, or text COVID19USVI to 888777. To report a
suspected COVID-19 case, call (340) 712-6299 or (340) 776-1519. ###