Home4LAYouth’s Noor Mathew Provides Resources to Young Adults Leaving the Foster Care System

A new beginning.

  • Category
  • Written by
    Amber Klinck
  • Photographed by
    Shane O’Donnell

Noor Mathew began volunteering with the Palos Verdes chapter of National Charity League in 2015. Her first event was with Peace4Kids, a Saturday program located in South Central Los Angeles. “They help children in foster care by giving them a safe space so they can explore different activities, helping them with academics and offering healthy meals,” she says.

But Noor couldn’t help but wonder: What’s next for these kids? Where do they go after they graduate from the foster care system? Who is helping them after that?

So in 2017, Noor and her brother, Arjun, cofounded Home4LAYouth—a foundation to give young adults the resources they need to begin their life after foster care. Partnering with Peace4Kids, Home4LAYouth offers individual housing solutions for transitional age youth (TAY).

According to data from a 2020 survey by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, there were 2,477 homeless TAY (ages 16 to 25) in L.A. County. Home4LAYouth notes that within 18 months of emancipation, approximately half of all foster youth become homeless, and 50% of the homeless population in the United States have spent time in foster care.

“No one is helping these kids set up their lives. They don’t have anyone to tell them how to get their first job, write a check, save, sign a lease.” 

By providing a stable, affordable housing opportunity for kids leaving the foster system, Home4LAYouth offers a chance for these young adults to take the next step in their lives. “If they want to go to college, if they want to start working, they have a secure place of their own,” Noor says.

For many in the program, having a space of their own is quite an adjustment. “It’s a big leap,” explains Noor’s mother, Sukhbir Mathew. “Some have never lived alone. They’re used to having foster brothers and sisters all living in the same house.”

Living independently can feel intimidating, even lonely to start. But with the guidance and resources provided by Home4LAYouth, these young adults are developing the life skills they need to be successful.

“No one is helping these kids set up their lives,” Noor points out. “They don’t have anyone to tell them how to get their first job, write a check, save, sign a lease.”

To help support the program, Noor fundraises through charities, businesses and schools. Many kids leaving the foster system have little to no possessions. “They just come with a Hefty bag, maybe some clothes. They don’t have housing necessities like pots, pans, bedding and bathroom items,” Noor says.

“They’re literally one step away from being on the street,” Sukhbir adds. “And they say that—they say it all the time. Then they get their key, and they’re like, ‘Ah, this is my place.’ It’s a tiny little studio apartment, but it’s theirs and they’re so happy about it.”

As of today, Home4LAYouth has sponsored 12 young adults. Noor, who now is 17 years old, is only one year away from the time when many children exiting the foster care system are expected to make it on their own without family support.

“Each of their stories is really inspiring to me,” she says. “They’ve completely changed their lives for the better. I’m not sure what I want to do personally in my life, but I know I want to make a difference in this world.”