The newest addition of transitional housing for foster youth has arrived at South Bay Community Services.
Muncey Manor opened this summer and was named after Fran Muncey, owner of The Gally in Chula Vista who actively donates time and resources to the foster youth community.
The Manor added 11 more apartments to total 35 for young adults ages 18 to 24 who have aged out of the foster care system.
The CEO of South Bay Community Services, Kathy Lembo, said that transitional housing for foster youth is one of the most important things the organization does in and for the community.
"About 300 kids exit the foster care system in the county every year, many of whom have no family or support at all and they need some kind of transitional housing and services," Lembo said. "If you look at the chronic homeless and prisons, a good number are foster care kids."
Trolley Trestle was the first transitional housing which opened more than 10 years ago at South Bay Community Services and paved the way for others. The apartments offer 35 individuals and single parents the opportunity to become more independent.
"It gives us the opportunity to house and provide assistance to kids in our community and help them become productive members of society," Lembo said. "It's about giving them a head start in life."
Kids who age out of the foster care system have a 50 percent chance of becoming homeless, according to Lembo, which is why she considers the transitional housing so important.
"They age out because it's not a case where family reunification was possible or a permanent solution like adoption was available," Lembo said. "Some kids have lived in 17 different homes and schools. They haven't gotten the same kind of chance that even kids in poverty get."
"We take an approach from day one that this is their home and they can come back," Lembo said. "We have kids who have been with us for years who come back for Christmas and Thanksgiving or come back for advice or to see counselors. We're not only the place they come to when they're having trouble but also when something good has happened."