Removing Barriers
& Creating Opportunity

Breaking Down Barriers

ASOH helps to removes the financial, physical, psychological, and health related barriers to creating a home. ASOH breaks down these barriers and helps to advance economic empowerment for youth aging out of foster by providing a home and the necessary tools, resources and opportunities to help them achieve their educational, career, financial and health goals.

Economical

  1. Research states that the average cost to furnish a one-bedroom apartment, with the bare minimum, is $8,353. This cost does include appliances, cooking equipment, plates, eating utensils, cleaning aids, bathroom essentials, tools, home organization items, art or home décor items. Nor does it include renting of trucks, delivery charges or labor costs.
  2. On average it takes a well-funded individual five-months to furnish a one-bedroom apartment.
  3. The average American child is 100% financially dependent on their parents until age 26 – primarily related to housing.
  4. The greatest obstacle for youth aging out of foster care is stable housing. Without stable housing, youth are unable to build a career and attain the education needed to escape poverty.

Psychological

  1. Moving is the greatest stress a person can endure after the loss of a loved one.
  2. Setting up home isn’t simply about moving, it requires shopping, designing and planning. Overwhelmed with “where to begin?” Someone already under duress will simply not begin.
  3. Furniture not only supports and enables basic everyday functions such as sleeping and eating, but good design has also been proven to greatly improve well-being, and the productivity of the inhabitant. How do you make your space look its best and reflect your personal style? For aged-out youth this is something that feels out of reach.

Physical

  1. Research in the area of stress related to moving and/or setting up a home, urges individuals to hire professional movers, or rely on friends and family for help in order to reduce the stress of moving. A foster youth doesn’t have the luxury of professional movers or a support system.

Health

  1. New research states that individuals experiencing housing instability are more likely to experience poor health.
  2. New research has found that health is negatively impacted by the inability to perform basic functions such as cooking, eating, studying and sleeping.
  3. New research has shown that health is negatively impacted by the stress of the financial burdens associated with high cost of creating a functioning home.

The average person spends the largest percentage of their income on housing and the greatest amount of their time at home

  • Neuroscientists, environmental psychologists, and health care experts all agree that home is the greatest factor in determining one’s life expectancy, as well as success in work, and education.
  • The average American child is completely financially dependent on their parents until age 26. More than 50% of a parent’s financial support to their child is spent on housing.
  • To fully furnish a one-bedroom apartment and equip it with just the basic items (without appliances) costs a minimum of $10,000 at Ikea prices.
  • A former foster youth may secure a Section 8 apartment, but only have the means to sleep, eat, and study on the floor, keeping their belongings in garbage bags.
  • After an average of seven relocations in the foster care system, the most important goal for an aged-out youth is a home. Without it, they are less likely to focus on education and career goals.
  • The inability to make an apartment into a functioning home will lead an aged-out youth to couch surf and/or live in their car. The cycle of homelessness begins and the downward spiral into poverty. ASOH intervenes to help break that cycle.

Youth that have aged out of the foster care system have far greater obstacles to overcome compared to their peers.

Newfound Optimism, Hope & Agency Gained During a Home Creation

  • For both the volunteer and beneficiary:
    • Dr. Shira Gabriel at SUNY recently developed an instrument to measure how experiences of collective assembly may contribute to a life filled with a sense of meaning, increased positive affect, an increased sense of social connection and a decreased sense of loneliness – all of which are essential components to a healthy, happy life. Dr. Gabriel sates “My research on collective effervescence suggests that activities sponsored by A Sense of Home are likely to be associated with an increased sense of social connection”.
    • Brené Brown states that holding hands with strangers allows us to gain a sense of belonging and believe in “inextricable human connection. That connection, the spirit that flows between us and every other human being in the world, is not something that can be broken”.
    • Witnessing the power and impact of humanity coming together to create a beautiful home in just 90 minutes exemplifies that radical transformation is possible.
  • For the volunteer:
    • Leading scientists agree that bestowing acts of kindness on a stranger is the greatest anti-depressant in the world and increases overall well-being.
    • Bearing witness to a life transformed leads to a conscious awakening of one’s role in contributing to a better world.
    • The immersive experience helps to deepen one’s understanding of homelessness, poverty, structural racism and inequity.
  • For the beneficiary:
    • Receiving the attention of up to 30 strangers, all helping to create their new home, allows the beneficiary to feel uniquely loved, seen, heard and understood.
    • Bearing witness to the love, joy and vulnerability of strangers offers the recipient a greater sense of love and worthiness, also allowing them to begin believing in, and feeling more connected to, humanity.
    • Moved by the experience, the beneficiary becomes a conduit for change – paying it forward and helping to create homes for others.
Removing Barriers & Creating Opportunities - A Sense of Home