In 2010, I was working at a non-profit social service agency and was assigned to help a young woman, let’s call her Ashley, find housing just three months before she aged out of the foster care system. We submitted a public housing application; unfortunately, she did not get an apartment before she aged out of foster care on her 21st birthday.
For several months Ashley couched surfed, essentially a homeless young woman. In a way, she had always been homeless. As a young child, Ashley was removed from her family’s home due to neglect. She then spent her adolescence bouncing from home to home, living with strangers. The resulting trauma left her ill equipped to manage the challenges facing her.
When Ashley finally moved into an apartment, she was no longer eligible for the Administration for Children’s Services one-time voucher covering the minimum pieces of furniture. I reached out to friends and found a futon mattress; not a full futon with the base, just a mattress that at least she could sleep on.
A few months later, I visited Ashley, who was ecstatic to have a home of her own, but her hopelessness and sense of being lost since leaving care was painfully evident. On the studio floor apartment was the futon mattress, without a sheet, and little else, no pots or pans or even a shower curtain – only a liner purchased from a dollar store.
I was dumbstruck and saddened by this enormous gap in services, the vast need these young adults have as they attempt to find their own way after a life in care. Gathering items from generous friends and scouring the web for donations, I pieced together household goods for other clients, and saw what a difference it made in their lives, yet I knew if all our foster youth were to have a chance at success, a larger effort was needed to help during this important life transition.
This is how City Living NY was born. We are dedicated to assisting each youth in securing all the household goods required to create a home. But that’s just the beginning. Our mission is to ensure that these young people have every chance at the broader success available to any young adult venturing out into the real world; to link them to services and educational resources; to listen to their concerns and questions, and always be available to guide them as they build a self-sufficient life and reach for their dreams.
With gratitude and hope,
Liz Northcutt, LMSW
Executive Director and Founder, City Living NY