Bronx facility helps those aged out of foster care

February 23, 2012 4:54:10 AM PST
There's a new facility in the Bronx that provides temporary housing to young men and women who have aged out of the foster care system.

There is a huge need for this kind of program to help young people transition into adulthood. Vicinitas Hall is a fully-renovated building with 67 studio apartments, and the demand is great. When the building opened up the application process, there were three applications for each spot.

The sleek-tiled lobby, high-tech security and stone courtyard make Vicinitas Hall look like any another apartment building. But the residents there require extra care, as they are individuals who are too old for foster care, but unable to live independently.

"They really have not learned the most basic things, how to go grocery shopping, how to turn a stove on, how to open a bank account," said Alissa Kampner Rudin, of the Lantern Group. "They have not been taught any of these things in foster care, particularly in the group home setting."

The non-profit organization The Lantern Group provides specialists in employment, education and counseling. Many of the residents are very distrustful of adults after years in foster care. Nico Perry was abandoned at the age of 2 and was shuffled in and out of 30 different foster homes. He is settling in to his new apartment.

"It's heaven to me, to be in my own environment where I can focus on my schoolwork and my studies," he said. "Without having any hassles or any major distraction, this is a blessing."

And Nico hits the books a lot. He is pulling down a 3.5 grade-point average at Mercy College, majoring in psychology and counseling. He is driven to succeed.

"No one can get in my way, no one can stop me, because I want to be somebody," he said. "I don't want to be just another statistic."

Nico hopes to channel the pain of his childhood into helping other foster children see that they do have a future.

Residents receive a subsidy from the city under localized Section 8 to cover 70 percent of their rent. The other 30 percent has to be paid for by the residents themselves.

Get Eyewitness News Delivered

Facebook | Twitter | Newsletters | Text Alerts