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Housing to help youth aging out of foster care planned for northwest side of South Bend

Published: Dec. 21, 2020 at 9:03 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Becoming an adult is an exciting milestone for many people. Turning 18 for children who’ve spent their life in foster care can mean heightened anxiety: they’ve ‘aged out’ of the system.

“Working in the foster care community for the last five years in this area, just seeing what happens when kids turn 18. And they don’t have anywhere to go, they age out, you know, one in five kids in the homeless, over 60% end up incarcerated,” explained Matt Borst, Co-founder of Village to Village International.

To reverse the trend, Borst’s non-profit intends to break ground in 2021 on a multi-generational housing development called Oasis Community in the 800 blocks of Harrison and Sherman Avenue in South Bend. The northwest side community will include a community center; two single-family homes; and seven duplexes where aged out foster youth will live in a studio apartment while their older mentor lives in the floor below them.

“So that’s what this project would be is to help these youth transition successfully to the next phase of life, and be able to, you know, really help them just overcome that overwhelming challenge of, you know, what happens next for them?” Borst said.

Ideally, the adult mentor would be age 55 or older.

“They just can offer to their life experience through just mentor through what they’ve done in their own jobs. It’s just, it’s invaluable experiences,” Borst remarked.

Impressed by the Oasis Community plan, the City of South Bend donated five lots in the area while a nearby church chipped in a property as well.

“Their mission of what they were trying to accomplish, really fit into what the neighborhood plan was also trying to accomplish. So it made sense to try to make these two things work together,” said Tim Corcoran, Director of Planning with the city.

Village to Village International will charge the youth a portion of their job income as “rent” and save it for them to use the money as a savings account when they leave the community someday. Financial literacy classes will be required.

Borst points to other successful aging out housing communities in Oregon, Illinois, and Maryland.

“To me, it’s about relationships. We all need relationships, we all need people in our lives that will believe in us and help us and encourage us,” he said.

Village to Village International has raised more than $36,000 of the $1 million Phase 1 fundraising goal. To contribute to the project, click here!

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