Most young people in the United States are experiencing an increasingly prolonged transition to adulthood. It is no longer assumed that they will automatically become self-sufficient adults on their 18th or even 21st birthdays (Arnett 2000; Wight, Xhau, Aratani, Schwarz, and Thampi 2010; Setterstein and Ray 2010). Rather, young people are gradually taking on the roles and responsibilities traditionally associated with adulthood while they acquire the education and work experience needed to become economically independent (Berlin, Furstenberg, and Waters 2010).
In this document, we summarize what is known about the housing needs and outcomes common to young people who age out of foster care. We explore the current landscape of programs and resources available to assist such young adults with housing. In the first section, we review the literature on the characteristics of the young people, their risk of homelessness, and the barriers they face in securing stable housing, along with relevant federal and, to a lesser extent, state policies. In the second section, we describe a wide range of housing programs for young people aging out of foster care, present a program typology, and conclude with the identification of a small group of innovative housing programs that may warrant closer exploration.