Sasha Bruce

Without this program taking me in, I would be homeless.

Transitional Living Program resident DeShay Ross testifies before the DC Council regarding the need for affordable housing and workforce development programs.

Council Members and other Members of the Committee:

Hello, my name is DeShay Ross and I currently live at the Sasha Bruce Transitional Living Program. Like many others in need of housing, I am very grateful to Sasha Bruce Youthwork for everything they have done for me. Without this program taking me in, I would be homeless. After my first year of college I returned home to find out that my mother couldn’t afford her current apartment because market rent kept rising, thus she had to find a more affordable place to live. Not having much family to begin with, and for various reasons why I couldn’t stay with my mother, I was forced to live day to day over a number of friend’s houses taking with me only what I could carry. Living in TLP has lifted the burden and stress of not having a stable place to live, keeping my belongings together, and a place to call home. This has ultimately helped me focus more on my future and what I want out of life. I’ve created a savings plan, thought out career choices and taken the steps to make sure I am prepared financially and to be on my own once I leave TLP.

Affordable housing for youth is a big problem that is only getting worse. I am not making excuses for crime or negative actions but a lot of youth turn to the streets to support themselves and their family members. I am personally pushing for Sasha Bruce Youthwork’s funding to not be cut and possibly be increased because everyone deserves a second chance. Everyone in my program has a success story and was able to overcome a lot of hardships thanks to Sasha Bruce. Why not continue to keep youth off the streets, change their lives and add to the success stories? Nobody is perfect. Don’t destroy the future of youth who struggle with the issue of housing by destroying our present.

In addition to living with Sasha Bruce, I am also enrolled in the Sasha Bruce YouthBuild Workforce Development program. I serve as the student body president for the YouthBuild class of 2013. YouthBuild should continue to be funded as well because here I am able to get another chance to control my own future. The Youth Build program is more than just aGED program, it is a program that gives you a bigger perspective than what you normally think about every day. I am able to better myself here. I recently took the practice GEDwhich I only needed a 2250 to pass and I scored a 2700. I did this with the help and constant support of the Youth Build staff. This program is important to this community and needs to stay open.

In conclusion, I am just one voice here speaking for the many youth who share my same feelings on this serious topic. There are many bright youth who have potential and are currently on the right track, but lose their way. YouthBuild is able to make the difference that can change their lives. Again my name is DeShay Ross, Student Body President for the YouthBuild program. Thank you all and have a nice day.