Getting Started


When you leave foster care, finding a place to live and being on your own is a big step. You will need to plan ahead to find housing that is safe, affordable and convenient. You will be faced with several new opportunities and challenges such as what housing option is right for you, what skills does it take to live on your own and what type of assistance is available.​

  • ​When making housing decisions, keep these things in mind when deciding on what living arrangement is right for you.

    • Where do you want to live?

    • Do you need to live close to your school, job or public transportation?

    • How much can you afford to spend on rent and other housing expenses?

    • Do you want to live with family or friends?

  • Here are some resources to help you as you start your housing search:

    • ​​Answers.USA.gov - Housing Help & Information

    • Leslie Family Children’s Foundation provides a support network that will include a Life Coach, Counselors, Parenting Programs, Mentoring, and many more skills needed to provide guidance in becoming a productive member of society.

      • Phone: (727) 239-7171



​​​Housing Life Skills

As you leave foster care, you’ll be faced with several new challenges as you settle into your new living arrangement.  You’ll have to learn several new skills which may include home budgeting, tenant rights, tenant responsibilities, home maintenance, and many more.  There are resources available to help you adapt to these challenges.

  • Tenant rights/responsibilities (The Florida Bar)

  • Finding housing/placement programs



You may need to establish credit in order to rent an apartment. Establishing credit may take a few months, so plan accordingly.


Tampa Bay CDC is a non-profit agency that is available at no cost to you. They will help you to establish credit and teach you how to maintain good credit. To reach a counselor at Tampa Bay CDC:


You can try to establish credit on your own by opening a store charge or line of credit. If you do this, MAKE SURE you don’t go over 40% of the amount of credit extended to you. Example: for a $100.00 line of credit, don’t charge more than $40.00. If you do, your credit will show up as bad. Start saving money! Most rentals require you to pay first and last months rent, and another month’s rent as a security deposit, all before you move in!


Once you establish credit, now you’ll want to obtain a list of available rentals. Visit Realtor.com and check out the rental section. You’ll be able to search by area of town, price, and number of bedrooms. Make sure if you own a pet (or are planning to get a pet), that you disclose that to your landlord. Many apartments don’t accept pets, and if they do, will charge a non-refundable pet fee. A typical pet fee is $250.00.


Subsidized/Section 8 Housing

If you qualify for a section 8 rental, a government agency will subsidize your rent. Find out if you qualify for subsidized rent by checking with your local welfare office.

  • Neighborhood Housing Service of St. Petersburg or Clearwater can help you find a rental or prepare you for Home ownership.

    • St. Pete NHS 727-821-6897

    • Clearwater NHS 727-442-4155


Household Budgeting

Are you having a hard time paying bills on time, or can’t seem to save enough money to get a car or furniture? There are experts who will help you figure out a plan, and there is no cost to get this credit counseling. Simply call Tampa Bay CDC to set up an appointment. To reach a counselor at Tampa Bay CDC:

Home Maintenance

​While living in foster care, you may not have had to worry about home maintenance and repairs. Living on your own, this is a skill you’ll have to learn. Speak to your landlord or housing provider to agree on what home maintenance each party will be responsible for as the need arises. It’s always a good idea to learn the basics of home maintenance and repair and how to react in an emergency situation.

There are several internet resources available:

  • Youtube videos on multiple topics

  • Home Maintenance Guide



​When you move into a new home, many times you will need to have utilities hooked up. Before moving in, ask what utilities you’ll be required to provide and what will be provided for you. Once you know what utilities you’ll need to provide, call each company to learn what the hook up process.

Utility deposits are a big moving expense. Call each company to find out what you’ll have to pay as a deposit.

  • Electric: Duke Energy (all Pinellas County): (727) 443-2641

  • Water: ​

    • Pinellas County Utilities

    • City of St. Pete (727)-893-7341, Pinellas County (727)-464-4000; Pinellas Park (727) 541-0711; City of Clearwater (727) 562-4600​

  • Gas: TECO People's Gas (727)-862-333​

  • Cable & Internet: Spectrum (727) 329-5020; Verizon 1(800)-Verizon; Clear 4g Internet (727) 798-8132


​​Housing Options

As you leave foster care, you may have several new housing options. Choosing which option for you will be both exciting and stressful. Take you time, check out all your options and find a new home that will be safe, convenient and affordable.​ Types of housing:

  • Transitional Housing

  • Apartments

  • Kinship care/stay with foster family

  • Student Housing

  • Home Share Program - The Home Share Program is a unique matching service between a Seeker, someone that needs a place to live and a Provider who wants to rent a room out in his or her house. It is international model that has proven successful in almost all of the United States. The program, the first of its kind in Florida and covers all of Pinellas County.

  • Group Homes - Group homes are small, residential facilities located within a community and designed to serve children or adults with special needs. These homes usually have six or fewer occupants and may or may not be staffed 24 hours a day by trained caregivers.

  • ALPHA House of Pinellas County Inc. - Provides housing and supportive services to homeless pregnant women and teens, new mothers with infants, and families experiencing crisis pregnancies. Address: 701 5th Ave. N, St. Petersburg, fL 33701 Phone: (727) 822-8190

  • Brookwood - Provides teen girls with an alternative living environment and therapeutic program encompassing education, employ-ability skills, independent living training, and counseling that will prepare them for self-sufficiency or a successful family reunification. Address: 901 7th Ave S, St. Petersburg, FL 33705 Phone: (727) 822-4789

  • Emergency/Short Term

  • Home Ownership

It’s always a good idea to learn the basics of home maintenance and repair and how to react in an emergency situation.


​​​Helpful Resources


  • Pinellas County Community Housing Guide

  • PInellas County Community Development Rental HousingThe Community Development Department’s mission is to help residents of Pinellas County achieve sustainable living through decent housing, suitable living environments and expanded economic opportunities. Phone: (727) 464-8210

  • Gulfcoast legal services: Gulfcoast Legal Services is a regional non-profit organization dedicated to providing comprehensive, personal legal advocacy, counseling and education to vulnerable individuals and families.

  • Pinellas Homeless Leadership Alliance Resources

  • City of St. Petersburg: The city can assist you with code issues once you have rented a place and it is not maintained up to minimum standards.

  • Pinellas County Housing Assistance: Will offer rental assistance up to $600 dollars on a per case basis. (727) 464-8400

  • Pinellas Opportunity Council, Inc. (POC): is the private non-profit Community Action Agency which has been serving the people of Pinellas County, Florida since 1968.

  • Florida Housing Search: Helps you locate available housing that best fits your individual and family needs.

  • Isaiah's Inn: Provides rental assistance to **FULL-TIME, EMPLOYED** single parents OR intact families WITH children. Also provides budget counseling. Single individuals without children do NOT qualify for assistance. DOES NOT HELP WITH DEPOSITS OR UTILITIES. *Not an emergency shelter* Phone: (727) 449-2600


​​​Assistance Programs

Community Service Foundation, Fair Housing & Housing Placement Program

​Fair Housing Counseling & Education on Fair Housing Laws and Landlord/Tenant Rights & Placement of households in safe, healthy and affordable rental housing with a goal to obtain permanent housing when circumstances permit. When EFSP (Emergency Food and Shelter Program) funds are available, qualified clients may receive rental/mortgage assistance.

Hours: 8:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday

Fees: None

Intake/Application Process: Contact office to schedule an appointment with Housing Placement Specialist.

Eligibility: Anyone needing assistance with Fair Housing Laws, Landlord/Tenant Rights, or assistance in finding affordable rental housing. When EFSP (Emergency Food and Shelter Program) funds are available, qualified clients may receive rental/mortgage assistance. Call for qualification information.

Handicap Access: Yes

Languages: English

Website: www.csfhome.org


​Community Law Program, Housing Clinic​

​Twice a month, volunteer attorneys meet with clients to discuss their housing issues such as foreclosure or landlord/tenant issues and provide advice in a one on one consultation with the attorney.

Hours: First and third Friday of each month from 12:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Fees: None
Intake/Application Process: Call for more information
Eligibility: Clients must be at or below federal poverty guidelines
Handicap Access: Yes
Languages: English

Website: www.lawprogram.org