TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — For foster youth aging out of the system across the country, they face many challenges when it comes to finding housing. According to the National Foster Youth Institute, about 23,000 kids age out of the system every year and about 20% of those will instantly be homeless when they turn 18.
To help those former foster youth in Tucson, the non-profit I Am You 360 is starting their newest housing project. Construction begins today on nine tiny homes and a community center on Van Buren Avenue.
I Am You 360's founder Desiree Cook said it's an idea that was four years in the making and she's excited to help more kids in need.
"18-22 year olds are the ones that slip through the cracks in our society so we want to make sure we sew them back into the fabric of our community," she said.
The 450 square foot tiny homes come complete with a kitchenette, patio, living room, and bedroom. The residents will pay $1.00 per square foot and half of the rent will be put into an savings account. After the two to three year program, they will use those savings to put a down payment on their own housing.
"We own the land, so by owning the land we can save half of their rent for the next 2 to 3 years," Cook said.
And it's not just handing the keys over to the new residents. Cook says they will participate in the I Am Somebody programming and also taking literacy classes. Cook said it's about helping the youth stay in safe housing for a long time.
"So it’s not only safe housing but giving them the tools so that they’ll never be homeless again," she said. "So we guide them to gainful employment, encourage secondary education and we believe that leads to entrepreneurship. It is a drug free environment and also for them to give back to their community."
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