$28 million approved for construction of campus to help kids aging out foster care in Harris County

Nick Natario Image
Wednesday, December 14, 2022
$28 million approved for construction of campus to aid kids aging out foster care and prevent homelessness in Harris County
Once complete, the $28 million complex will be able to house 1,400 kids in 50 units.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- A game-changer to hundreds of foster kids in our area took a giant leap forward Tuesday.

Behind Justin Hayward's big smile was a fear of what would happen once he aged out of the foster care system.

"When you age out of care, you really don't know anything about life," Hayward recalled. "When you age out and go into homelessness on top of that, that's just another barrier in your backpack."

Hayward, who goes by Prince, faced homelessness like many other foster kids. Having a place to go after foster care, he says, would've helped a lot.

"It's just great to be able to have something secure," Hayward said.

It's a sense of stability foster kids will soon have. Harris County commissioners approved spending $23,356,200 to build a new complex.

The city of Houston is also giving $5 million. Once complete, 50 units will house 1,400 kids that age out of the foster care system.

It's part of the HAY Center's new campus. An organization that helped Hayward, who now owns a clothing line.

"Nine times out of 10, there are going to be resources around that place," Hayward explained. "So, it's not just a place to lay your head. They're going to help you with a job, taxes, and essential things to be a successful person within our community."

Financial approval may have come Tuesday, but it'll still take time to construct. Officials hope to have it ready in 2024, which is a major step Hayward says will change lives.

"I think about the little Princes and Justins out there that will be able to have somewhere warm and safe to sleep," Hayward said. "It goes to show that everything I had to endure growing up, the good work is being put in now."

The new campus will be built on a site just off the Gulf Freeway near Scott Street. In addition to housing units, there will also be a computer lab, skills training rooms, and a community space.

For updates on this story, follow Nick Natario on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

RELATED: Texas should place more foster kids with families rather than in residential treatment, report finds

In an effort to lower the amount of foster youth that end up homeless, the resource fair opens the conversations about mental wellness, college and job applications.