Empowered By Orange County United Way

Santa Ana is the First in the Nation to Find Housing for All Former Foster Youth Who Qualified for Housing Vouchers Under New Federal Program


  • United to End Homelessness Found Stable Housing for Nearly Two-Dozen Youth Through its WelcomeHomeOC Program


  • Each Youth was Housed Within 90 Days of Receiving their FYI Voucher



Irvine, CA (May 4, 2020)- Orange County youth advocates announced today that the City of Santa Ana is the first in the nation to house all of its former foster youth who hold Foster Youth to Independence (FYI) vouchers, a new initiative by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Orange County United Way, in partnership with the Santa Ana Housing Authority, the County of Orange Social Services Agency and Orangewood Foundation supported all 25 former foster youth to find housing within 90 days of each individual receiving their FYI voucher. 

The Santa Ana Housing Authority was one of only two agencies in California to receive HUD’s new FYI housing vouchers last November, and also received the largest award in the country, 25. Announced by HUD last summer, the FYI initiative provides vouchers to youth aging out of the foster system and who are experiencing or are at high risk of experiencing homelessness. The program targets young adults between the ages of 18 and 24. 

United to End Homelessness, an initiative developed and directed by Orange County United Way, and its WelcomeHomeOC Program helped the youth find new homes that accepted FYI vouchers. The program provided incentives and financial support for items including security deposits, holding fees and other move-in costs, to property owners and managers to help them feel confident leasing to voucher-holders and increase the number of available units. 

The County of Orange Social Services Agency and Orangewood Foundation worked together to identify the 25 youth and provided ongoing case management and support services in their journeys to securing FYI vouchers. Orangewood Foundation also provided financial assistance to furnish the apartments.  

“It has been an honor to be a part of this effort and help provide these youth with a place they can finally call ‘home’,” said Becks Heyhoe, Director of United to End Homelessness. “These young adults each have a unique story, and have unfortunately already had to overcome many hurdles in life. Our ultimate goal was to use the resources available to us to help set them up on the path towards a bright and successful future.”  

Evelyn, 24 years old, was the final youth in Orange County with an FYI voucher to be housed through WelcomeHomeOC. Beginning in her early teen years, she lived with various family members, friends and school classmates, with little to no support. After years of working to make ends meet, she got a diploma, graduated from massage therapist trade school and received an FYI voucher. Today, Evelyn has a place to call home, where she can focus on life with her son and building her career. 

“I now have somewhere safe to call home for me and my three year old son. I can be there for him, spend more time with him and we can start to build our life together,” said Evelyn. “This is just the beginning to a better life and I’m going to use this opportunity to work towards something that represents me and something that I can finally call my own.”

“The success we’ve seen in Orange County is remarkable. It’s exactly the kind of enthusiastic embrace of the FYI initiative we hoped for when HUD envisioned it,” said Christopher Patterson, HUD’s National Lead for FYI & Regional Administrator for California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii and U.S. Pacific territories, and a former foster youth himself. “The county’s strong and early adoption of the program — and the compassion shown by the participating property owners — will have major and long-lasting effects on the lives of these youth.”

For more information on WelcomeHomeOC, visit: https://unitedtoendhomelessness.org/welcomehome 



Launched in February 2018, United to End Homelessness is led by a diverse group of leaders from Orange County’s top business, philanthropic, governmental, faith-based and nonprofit organizations – all committed to ending homelessness in our community. Our work is grounded in bringing the recommendations of the 2017 UC Irvine study “Homelessness in Orange County: The Costs to Our Community” to life, with Orange County United Way serving as the backbone of this new collaborative effort. Together we are working to bring the issue of homelessness to the forefront of the community’s collective discussion and create civic engagement that will lead to meaningful and lasting results. Together we can and we will #EndHomelessnessOC. For more information, please visit www.unitedtoendhomelessness.org

Media Contact: Annie Noebel, anoebel@cornerstonecomms.com, (949) 449-2527