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United Way brings program to transition foster youth into sustainable housing

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GREELEY — United Way of Weld County is taking action to help young whohave not acquired the necessary life skills in order to solve major life issues on their own — things such as renting an apartment, buying a car, or managing finances are fundamental life events that may help maintain independence.

United Way of Weld County has created the RITE program, which stands for Realizing Independence Through Education, to help young individuals maintain independence through the assistance of positive role models that can influence decisions that help lead to self-sufficiency.

The RITE program is able to bring a new program to Weld County individuals through a collaborative effort led by Mile High United Way. United Way of Weld County is working with local entities including the Weld County Department of Human Services, Weld County Housing Authority, and members of the Champions program.

The Family Unification Program, also known as FUP, is a program helping young individuals transition out of foster care with an 18-month federal housing voucher. The intention is to help the young adult move towards sustainability and independence.

  Once a young adult is referred to RITE through one of the agencies listed above, the RITE program coordinator meets with the individual to review their application and check eligibility to determine if the program will meet their needs. If it is a good fit, the RITE coordinator will assist in completing the state application and verification process. Once the state verifies the application, the housing voucher is sent to the RITE coordinator and the applicant has 60 days from the issued date to find a place that meets the housing criteria.

Agencies making up the Champions program include United Way of Weld County, Greeley Transitional House, Catholic Charities, Connections for Independent Living, and GreenPath Debt Solutions.

In order to be eligible for this program, the young adult must be a Weld County resident between the ages of 18 and 22 and have been in foster care at least through the age of 16.  The individual must be considered homeless or in a chronic unstable living situation as well be willing to complete a background check.

The most important eligibility factor is the individual’s willingness to work with a case manager. RITE Program Coordinator Cheryl Secorski explained “working with a case manager is necessary in order to make the process go smoothly and be most effective,” she said. “It also provides a personal connection to the youth which helps them through the process and adds to the emotional support,” she added.

According to a release announcing the RITE program, creating sustainable programs which meet the needs of those in our community is paramount to United Way of Weld County. Creating long-lasting partnerships is very important for the success of an organization and individuals.

“We believe bringing this program to Weld County is a great opportunity to provide opportunities for self sufficiency of young adults,” said Jeannine Truswell, President and CEO of United Way of Weld County. “Giving our youth a good start is the first step to creating stronger communities all across Weld County” she concluded.

  United Way of Weld County invites members of the public to assist the RITE program, whether through advocating for youth projects such as FUP or volunteering at after-school or transitional programs.

To learn more about RITE or the Family Unification Program, please contact United Way of Weld County at 970-353-4300 or visit www.unitedway-weld.org.