For some teenage boys who age out of the foster care system in Miami-Dade, the future seems bleak.
Dr. Paul Ahr, President and CEO of Camillus House, many former foster care clients become homeless after the age of 18. He points to a recent study which found that 25 percent of youth transitioning out of foster care in Miami became homeless within the first 5 years.
In an effort to give these at-risk teens a safe place to stay while they hone their survival in the real world skills, Camillus House – in conjunction with Our Kids and Casa Valentina – proudly opened the doors to their new Emmaus Place on Tuesday. The seven unit apartment building, which was built in the 1930s in the Lummus Park Historic District, got a $1.35 makeover paid for by a special demonstration loan from the Florida Housing Finance Corporation and a Miami-Dade Surtax grant.
Each tenant will pay a monthly rent fee of $325, which covers most of the operational costs, WiFi, cable, water, electricity and trash collection, as well as laptops to help with their school work. Camillus House will subsidize the rest of the building expenses. Each apartment is fully furnished and includes all appliances, such as refrigerator, stove, washer, dryer, and dishwasher.
To qualify, applicants must be between 18 and 23 years of age and enrolled in the Road to Independence program, a state program for youth who are aging out of foster care. The program provides some funding to cover living expenses as long as they comply with several requirements, including being enrolled in school.
Our Kids, the administrative agency contracted by the state to coordinate the system of care for youth in foster care in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties, will identify eligible, prospective candidate who meet these criteria. Casa Valentina will provide a full-time, on site, case manager who will work directly with the young men. Other services provided will include counseling, therapy and basic life skills education.