Seeking 'A Sense Of Home' For Youth In Foster Care

"Yo, this is dope!" Jason McKinney was in awe! The former foster youth was seeing his first apartment for the first time. Thanks to "A Sense of Home" the apartment was not only furnished, but decorated.

When Jason arrived on move-in day volunteer designers were there to greet him. The idea is to let such kids know they are not alone.

The crowd helped create that family feel that kids from foster care miss out on. Too many are all alone. Too many end up with nowhere to turn. Too many end up homeless or sleeping on a friend's couch.

On this day, it was an exciting 10 homes in two days. Ten former foster young moved into a brand new building in Koreatown. It is low-income housing and they qualified for Section 8 housing. Jason holds down a job as a security guard. Assistance will pay two-thirds of his rent. "It's what I always wanted" he said, "To be independent!"

Kids in county care emancipate at 18 or 21 years old. Hillsides Housing Coordinator Jimmy Jacobs says the average for most young people to be out on their own is 26. Without helping hands the success rate its low.

Jason spent two years in Hillside's Transitional Housing program to prepare for exiting the foster care system at 21. With stability in his life Jason can avoid some of the pitfalls of life after foster care. He attends class and wants to become a therapist.

"A Sense of Home" collects gently used home goods and furnishings. Designer Georgie Smith is behind the idea. She, A.J. Vernet, and film producer Melissa Goddard launched the non-profit about a year ago.

A Sense of Home has helped 40 former foster youth get their designer apartments. Contact them if you'd like to volunteer or donate gently used furniture or home goods.

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