Ex-foster kids work to buy own homes

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals Alston, 23, and Lawson are the first two in the nation to buy homes through a new program geared toward teaching former and current foster children the financial skills most young adults lean on parents, siblings or family friends to learn. “They make the same mistakes that all kids that age make. But when these kids make them, they have more severe consequences because there’s nobody to fall back on,” said Gary Stangler, executive director of the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, which is working through local groups in 12 cities with about 1,000 teenagers and young adults who have been in foster care. The Casey foundation provides grants to local organizations that work with foster children and that are able to identify and recruit the young adults eligible to participate in their areas. The program trains participants ages 14 to 23 in all money matters – from opening a checking account and buying car insurance to starting their own small businesses. About 523,000 children were in foster care as of late 2003, according to the latest available federal data. The transition from state care to young adulthood often is a rocky one. In a University of Chicago study earlier this year of young adults who aged out of the foster care system, researchers found that more than one-third had no high school diploma or General Equivalency Diploma – compared to 10 percent of their peers – and nearly half the women were pregnant by age 19. Thirty percent of the men had been incarcerated at least once and only 46 percent had a savings or checking account. ATLANTA – Anita Alston sleeps on an air mattress because she can’t afford a bed. Just up the road, Katrina Lawson is using bed sheets for curtains until she can buy the real thing. Both of the twentysomething women have learned plenty about working hard and saving money since moving into their first homes last month. As former foster children – two of the roughly 20,000 each year who “age out” of the system without ever having a permanent home – they didn’t need another lesson in doing without. “The only thing I was ever concerned about was food and a roof over my head for me and my daughter,” said Lawson, a 24-year-old native of Peoria, Ill., who moved to Atlanta in 2000 after living with four different foster families since she was 7. “It’s very easy for them to get stuck out on the fringe,” said Lesley Grady, vice president with the financial-training program’s local branch, the Metropolitan Atlanta Youth Opportunities Initiative. Besides training on how to manage money, the program connects former foster children with mentors – from doctors to accountants to counselors. It also provides matching funds for savings accounts that the participants start, ranging from one-to-one matches for those saving to buy a car to four-to-one matches for buying a house. The matching money comes from the Jim Casey Foundation, named after the co-founder of the United Parcel Service, and other supporters, including the United Way. Both Alston and Lawson were able to make $5,000 down payments on their homes. Alston, who works for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is pursuing a master’s degree in public health, said she relied heavily on professionals she met through the program while closing on her $134,000, three-bedroom town house just east of Atlanta. “I tried to connect with people that would help look out for me,” said Alston, who spent most of her childhood in Baltimore, one of 17 children raised by her grandparents. Lawson, who works jobs as a lab technician and as a deputy at the Fulton County Courthouse, laughs about the bargaining skills she picked up through the program. She turned down appliance after appliance that the seller offered with her $200,000, four-bedroom house in suburban Snellville, getting a break on the price each time. “What I should have negotiated was some blinds,” Lawson said, laughing about the sheets she uses to keep out sunlight, but pulls down when she has guests. Other participants in the program have started saving for their own homes after hearing about Alston and Lawson, Grady said. Stangler said he hopes the stories of more foster kids will one day sound like theirs. “By definition, these kids were abused or neglected in their homes and taken away; they started out with a lot more to overcome,” he said. “Not all of them are buying homes, but what we’re finding is that, given the opportunities, the resilience to make it is there with a lot of these kids.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Warriors Curry Blazers, 132-125

first_imgPORTLAND, Oregon — Golden State’s Stephen Curry returned from a sprained right knee to score an NBA-record 17 points in overtime, finishing with 40 as the Warriors won 132-125 at Portland on May 9 to take a 3-1 lead in their second-round playoff series.The day’s other game also went to overtime, with Miami downing Toronto to square that series at two games apiece.Curry, playing for the first time since he was injured in the first-round series against Houston, was rusty for three quarters but sensational in the closing stages as the Warriors came from 16 points down to force overtime.Originally expected to play about 25 minutes off the bench, Curry picked up a heavier workload in the second half after Shaun Livingston, who had been starting in his absence, was ejected in the second quarter after arguing a call and picking up two technical fouls.His victorious return came hours after a person with knowledge of the award told The Associated Press that Curry would repeat as NBA MVP, with the announcement coming as early as May 10.The Warriors can win the series May 11 at home in Game 5.Damian Lillard finished with 36 points and 10 assists for Portland.Curry’s fast-break layup gave the defending NBA champions a 120-118 lead with 2:21 left in the extra period, and he followed with a 3-pointer.Harrison Barnes’ layup extended the lead to 125-118 and Portland couldn’t catch up. Klay Thompson finished with 23.In the fourth quarter, Draymond Green dunked to keep Golden State within 109-108. Mason Plumlee’s finger-roll layup extended Portland’s margin but Barnes tied it with a 3-pointer for Golden State with 51 seconds left, and both Lillard and Curry missed to force the OT.Curry led the Warriors to an NBA-record 73 wins in the regular season, a year after leading the team to its first NBA championship in 40 years. He averaged just over 30 points per game this season.The Blazers started strongly and led 16-2 when Curry came off the bench with 5:56 left in the first quarter.Portland led 67-57 at halftime, scoring a franchise playoff-record 41 points in the second quarter alone.Miami’s Dwyane Wade saved the Heat in regulation, then finished off overtime with an emphatic dunk as the hosts beat Toronto 94-87 on May 9 to tie their NBA second-round playoff series at 2-2.Wade scored 30 points and Goran Dragic had a huge three-point play with 22.4 seconds left in overtime.Dragic and Joe Johnson each scored 15 for the Heat, who rallied from a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter. Game 5 is in Toronto on May 11.Terrence Ross and Cory Joseph each scored 14 for Toronto, which shot 39 percent. Bismack Biyombo and DeMarre Carroll added 13 apiece, while starting guards DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry combined for 19 points on 6-for-28 shooting.Miami was down 77-68 midway through the fourth quarter, and still trailed 79-72 with 5 minutes left.Wade scored the next five points for Miami, getting the Heat within 79-77. The deficit was still two when Toronto’s Lowry fouled out with 1:58 left. The Heat finally got the equalizer with 12.6 seconds left.Joseph missed a jumper to end regulation and the Raptors scored a mere four points in the extra session.Wade tried a scoop shot from the right side of the lane in overtime. The ball bounced on the rim a few times, and stayed there, resulting in a jump ball that Toronto won with 58 seconds remaining. DeRozan scored on that possession to get Toronto within two, but the Raptors wouldn’t score again.TweetPinShare0 Shareslast_img read more