Lynchburg Woman Sheds Light on Housing Shortage for Foster Youth

Lynchburg, VA -{}A local woman is shedding light on the problems foster youth face as they leave the system. Dashia Womack founded Aunt Gwen's Place in 2008 to help local foster kids transition onto their own.{}She helps them with everything from money management, house hold budgeting and enrolling into college. However, she says when it is time for them to go live on their own, finding a place to live has become a major obstacle. Dashia Womack says there is nothing more gratifying than seeing the look on a foster student's face when they get accepted into college. "They get their CVCC ID and they realize wow I am a college student" said Womack. But she says she also sees their disappointment when they cannot find a place to live. Womack says many of her students are turned away because they do not have a co-signer or meet income guidelines. "If you don't have housing then it's hard to find a place to study. If you don't have housing it's hard to move forward with employment" said Womack. Womack says many of her students have also tried to get subsidized housing through the city's voucher system, but are either on the waiting list or trying to get on it. Dawn Fagan Lynchburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority says between two to three hundred people are currently on the wait list. She says funding for the voucher system has decreased this year. "We're about 130 vouchers short." Womack says she is looking to the Lynchburg community to lend a helping hand. "I am willing to work with any private landlords that have duplexes or apartments that are available" said Womack. Womack says she has reached out to members of the Lynchburg City Council as well as Senator Mark Warner's office.{}She hopes she can come up with a solution to the foster youth's housing concerns that can be adopted elsewhere.