Being proactive is essential for finding effective solutions to problems. Milwaukee is addressing a major concern of our society:  What happens to teenagers in the foster care system who “age out” of the system?   Without the backing of a family support system, those teenagers are far more likely to become homeless because they do not have the stability and support that any young adult needs as they enter adulthood.

But an innovative developer in Milwaukee is teaming up with a nonprofit organization and housing division to create a solution to this problem. “Tiny homes” are being built in Milwaukee for people between the ages of 18-25 which will provide temporary housing for those aging out of the foster system.  The hope is these homes will provide stability for former foster children and reduce their risk of becoming homeless.

According to a local article, these small homes will be 300-350 square feet with a bathroom, bed, and kitchen. The young adults coming out of foster care will help build the tiny homes, which will foster their sense of ownership and value – and give them experience with carpentry, electrical wiring, plumbing, and household maintenance. The land was approved to be rezoned for this project and has $100,000 guaranteed money from the county. They plan to build up to 12 homes the first year.

According to an article in Journal Sentinel, the project follows a “housing-first model.” Tim Baack, the president and CEO of Pathfinders, a non-profit agency in Milwaukee, states, “housing-first is based on the premise, and the evidence strongly suggests that this is true for most if not all people, that without adequate housing it becomes much more difficult if not impossible for someone to be trained and get a job and keep a job.”

This county had previously implemented this  housing first model” in other areas and populations and saw that it lowered the homeless rate by 40%. Because of that success, they decided to use the same model for the foster children population aging out of that system but still needing support. They hopefully have learned independent living skills, but now will have a location to live and practice these skills first hand.