Updated: Jun 27
In May, D.S. celebrated three years of stable housing thanks to the efforts of the Housing Authority of Brevard County and WAYS for Life. D.S. has disabilities. In 2019 he aged out of foster care and became homeless when he turned 22 years old.
At the time he was living in an Adult Care Living Facility for dementia patients but had to leave when the foster care funding stopped. With no life skills, no job, and no disability income, D.S. was in dire straits.
With legal advocacy provided by WAYS for Life and the assistance of the Housing Authority of Brevard County, in October 2019 D.S. became one of the first in the nation to receive the Foster Youth to Independence (FYI) Housing Choice Voucher. The FYI voucher is an on-demand three-year section 8 voucher that helps former foster youth pay their rent. Once he received the FYI voucher, the Housing Authority of Brevard County provided D.S. with an apartment in early 2020 where he has lived independently for the past three years. In addition to the FYI voucher, WAYS legal services obtained Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for D.S., along with a payee to help him manage the SSI.
WAYS legal services also advocated in court for the appointment of a mentor, and with the help of Children's Home Society, D.S. has had the same mentor, Austin Lewis, for the past four years. WAYS Career Pathways Work Readiness services enrolled D.S.in Vocational Rehabilitation where he has participated in several on the job trainings with the hope of securing employment in the near future.
Mike Bean, CEO of the Housing Authority of Brevard County and
Pamela Bress, Executive Director of WAYS for Life at the
Affordable Housing Summit
On May 18th, Brevard County presented its first annual Affordable Housing Summit to a packed convention center in Cocoa. People came from all over the state to address the affordable housing crisis in the nation, and most particularly, the State of Florida and Brevard County.
Mike Bean, the CEO of the Housing Authority of Brevard County, was the closing speaker. Mike focused on the importance of community partnerships in solving the crisis. Mike asked Pamela Bress, Executive Director of WAYS for Life, to come to the podium to speak about their unique community partnership and how it is helping homeless youth get off the street and into affordable housing.
WAYS for Life supports Callisto PDS and the development of the Xavier House, the first ever foster home for high-intelligence, high-potential youth in foster care. WAYS Executive Director, Pamela Bress, attended the training offered by Callisto titled "Understanding Hard to Reach, High Potential Children." The excellent training focused on the recognition and identification of the attributes and traits of high-potential, high-intelligent, and gifted foster youth. It taught participants how to identify the youth and their needs as well as resources to help them realize and increase their talents and skills to achieve a higher level of success in life. At the training, Callisto presented information about the Xavier House.