COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS — Those in the Brazos Valley aging out of the foster care system have a unique resource at their fingertips with Unlimited Potential. UP is an organization serving former foster youth.
Unlimited Potential is looking to the city to help those who have aged out of the foster care system, the program is helping participants become more independent by the time they leave UP's services, with proposed transitional housing.
During Thursday night's College Station City Council meeting, the program presented a huge item in order to better serve this group.
College Station City Council voted unanimously to consider backing a loan to allow Unlimited Potential to purchase and renovate a property on Anderson Street in College Station to help participants become self-sufficient adults.
"Last night the City Council voted to move forward with looking into being the backer for a loan to allow us to purchase 1115 Anderson St and then renovate it for our specific needs to make it transitional housing with skills training GED and all of the educational purposes that we would need to help people to be fully-functional and fully-independent adults," Ted Randall, President of the Board with Unlimited Potential said.
"So we presented to them the opportunity to get a Section 108 loan through CDBG funds. What they would do is be the guarantor for the loan and they would be the lean holder, so we could basically get the loan and purchase this building and renovate it to make transitional living at a much lower interest rate," Randall added.
The property at 1115 Anderson Street was once developed as a nursing home in 1977 and used to house senior living. Randall says there are 50 independent rooms within the space, which he says can be used to help maximize independence for residents who may live there.
"We can find ways to convert those 50 rooms into suites with a bathroom and living room to make basically mini apartments," Randall added.
Outside of living space, there would be kitchen space, meeting rooms, and training to provide education.
"Like GEDs and skills training to make sure we are giving them the support they need that maybe they didn't have before, so they can become who they really want to be and they can meet all of their life goals," Randall said.
Ted Randall with Unlimited Potential says the number of agencies working with former foster youth is slim and seeing the entire council support them Thursday night was huge.
"To have the support from the entire City Council to say "This is a population we want to put our heart and soul behind and we are willing to say yes we want to look at ways to continue to back them and support them"... and then if they go to a program like ours where we can supply them the support they didn't previously have to help them have the skills they need to be that successful young adult, then they are able to that put back into the community," Randall said.
The city says UP has a lot of work to do and coming up with an exact number to put within the application is next.
"They need to flesh out what this program will look like, how it will be funded, how they will be able to repay the debt... what will the day to day activities of that facility be... how will the program work for the transitional housing aspect... where will they get the assistance for the residents to receive funding as a subsidy to pay their rent...," Debbie Eller, Director of Community Services with the City of College Station said.
For the purchase of the building and for renovations, UP has requested up to 3 million dollars to make this project happen. Unlimited Potential would responsible for paying the debt and the City of College Station would pledge future grant funds as collateral.
Randall says the organization has nearly 20 program participants and they are fully funded by donations and grants.
According to their website: "UP began in 2014 under the Court Appointed Special Advocate program, serving both current and former foster youth ages 16-24. UP received designation as its own 501(c)(3) in May 2018 and narrowed its focus to serve only former foster youth ages 18-25. Originally envisioned as strictly a mentoring program it has quickly grown into much more."