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Riverside leads Inland Empire in State’s $156.4M effort to expand homeless housing

$4.375 million will purchase up to five homes to create housing for those aging out of foster care.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is held for Walden Family Services’ new Transitional Age Youth house in Riverside. (Courtesy of Walden Family Services)

The State has allocated $4.375 million to Riverside to create housing for young adults facing homelessness as they age out of foster care. This funding is intended to purchase up to five houses, each of which will house five young adults.

This funding is part of a statewide initiative announced by Governor Gavin Newsom, distributing $156.4 million across California to boost affordable housing options for those in need.

The investment in Riverside, the only project funded in the Inland Empire, is geared toward homeless youths and those emerging from foster care who are susceptible to homelessness. “The City of Riverside’s commitment to reducing homelessness focuses on preventing people from becoming homeless in the first place,” Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson said. “We know young people, particularly foster youth, are vulnerable and at high risk of becoming homeless, which is why these funds are so critical to our overall strategy of addressing homelessness.”

The initiative is a collaboration with Walden Family Services, which opened a 2,800-square-foot transitional home in Riverside this July. It will include purchasing residential properties throughout Riverside and converting them into single-room occupancy units. Alongside housing, these spaces will provide supportive services such as case management, educational aid, and job and life skills training to help the youth become self-reliant.

“We know from experience that pairing services with shelter is the recipe for success in helping people get off the streets,” Councilmember Erin Edwards said. “This is especially true of young people who can avoid becoming homeless altogether if they have the right housing and guidance at this crucial point in their lives.”

The initiative is a part of the State's Homekey program, which has funded 14,040 homes statewide, transforming various building types into housing solutions.

“Homekey continues to demonstrate that we can build quickly, and at a fraction of the usual cost, to deliver much-needed affordable homes for Californians struggling to find a place to live,” Governor Newsom said in a press release. “There’s still more work ahead, but the state is taking proactive measures, from implementing accountability standards to offering incentives, to confront this housing crisis head on.” Approximately $400 million is yet to be allocated in the current funding round.

"This momentous opportunity is a testament to the Homekey Program's commitment to supporting our mission of providing stable and supportive environments for transitional age youth," says Teresa Stivers, CEO of Walden Family Services. "We are thrilled about the positive impact this project will make on the lives of the youth we serve and the broader community."

For several years, Crest Community Church has been working to raise $2.8 million to tackle the same problem by building eleven transitional homes for young adults aging out of foster care on its 1.75-acre campus near UC Riverside.