Written by: Montana Couser, Communications Specialist
Transitioning into adulthood isn’t easy and neither is finding safe, affordable housing. After speaking with Khadijah and Natanya, two young adults who are about to transition out of the Philadelphia Department of Human Services (DHS), it was clear that housing is their top concern. In February 2021, DHS announced a new rental assistance program, which is ideal for young adults such as Khadijah and Natanya who are transitioning out of care.
This program provides rapid rental assistance and housing support to 60 youth per year who are facing homelessness due to obstacles, such as job loss or unresolved college housing. Khadijah and Natanya have been working with a team at DHS to identify the resources they need to become independent. This includes things like jobs, health insurance, education – and housing. Every youth’s situation is different, so DHS works individually with each youth.
After speaking with the two, it was clear how the Youth Rental Assistance and Support Program will be beneficial not only to them but many other young adults across the city aging out of DHS care.
Khadijah: My name is Khadijah but I’d prefer to be called Kaleena. I am 20 years old. My favorite hobby is coin counting and watching crime TV shows such as Law and Order and reruns of Cold Case. I work as a customer service representative at a bank. I love my job a lot. I have met so many different people, some who inspire me to open up my own business one day.
Natanya: I love watching Law and Order SVU and spending time with my son. I also enjoy learning how to be a better parent and friend to my son. I just turned 21.
Are you currently in DHS care? If so, what types of things are you doing to prepare to leave.
K: I am currently in DHS but also transitioning out to be on my own. I started renting my first house In February and I love it! Some days it’s hard but most days it’s amazing.
N: I’m currently in DHS and just got a voucher from PHA so I should be set. Right now, I’m looking for an apartment!
What do you think will be the most challenging about becoming an adult?
K: At first I thought managing my own bills and keeping up with my social life was going to be a challenge but I still am able to pay my bills and have enough to buy the other things that I want and to be able to still go out with my friends occasionally. Medical sometimes concerns me because I am not sure which insurance would better suit me and below cost.
N: I think that I’ve been independent for so long that I should be fine. Probably just managing my money better.
How do you think the new Rental Assistance Program with DHS might be of help to you?
K: Rental assistance will be helpful to me because then I can save to buy a car hopefully and be able to pay for my insurance and other fees.
N: I’d like to have housing in a safe area for my son to be o.k. in
What is one thing you did recently that you’re really proud of or excited about?
K: Something I recently did that made me proud was that I started saying no to things I really didn’t want to do. I’ve also started a new book and I have been reading it daily to improve my reading skills. Honestly, reading was one of my weaknesses. I feel like the more I’ve been reading, the more confidence I have when I have a conversation with someone. My words aren’t slurring or anything. That makes me happy.
N: I went out with a friend for the first time in almost two years.
What are your goals/dream job?
K: My goal is to open up my own vending machine company and also to be promoted in the banking industry. I would love to be a relationship banker.
N: I want to graduate with honors and become an early childhood education teacher.
What motivates you?
N: My son motivates me.
How do you overcome challenges?
K: I overcome my challenges by praying daily, giving self encouragement, and reminding myself that even if I don’t succeed there’s always another day to try.
N: I’m a go with the flow kind of person. Everything happens for a reason and there’s nothing you could do to change it, so why get mad.
Thanks Kaleena and Natanya!
For more information on the Older Youth Rental and Assistance Program contact DHS_Housing@phila.gov.