ProjectDC: Creating a Home for Homeless Youth

A photo of a person sitting down.

wokandapix /

A rundown house in the city’s Marshall Heights neighborhood is soon to be transformed into a haven for homeless young people, thanks to a collaboration between a local nonprofit organization and two companies that serve the construction industry.

Sasha Bruce Youthwork, a local non-proft that helps at-risk youth, has joined forces with Reed Construction Data, a construction-information provider, and Hanley Wood, LLC, a firm that provides media services to architects and builders, to create the transitional housing facility. The effort has been dubbed “projectDC.”

The former single-family home, located on D Street SE in Ward 7, was donated in July 2011 by the family of the previous owners in support of Sasha Bruce’s mission, said Jim Beck, Youthwork’s development director.

“When we accepted the building, we knew we wanted to use it for homeless youth,” Beck said. “What we envision is that it will be a transitional living program for older teens up to 18 [years old]. It will be longer-term than a shelter.”

Once completed, the facility will include bathrooms, bedrooms, a kitchen, offices and community areas. The pro- gram will serve “young people with no ability to go home to their parents,” Beck said. The facility will also feature a community garden and greenhouse.

The home will be operated by Sasha Bruce Youthwork as a “service-enriched” transitional housing program and will have space for up to eight young people at any given time. The young people will be able to stay for as long as a year and a half, sharing bedrooms, learning independent living skills, attending school and getting counseling and other help.

The ultimate goal of the project, said Beck, is to “have a home for homeless youths where they’ll be safe and have the skills to live independently, so that they leave the program either with permanent affordable housing or to move back in with their families, or go to college.”

Staff and students from Sasha Bruce, as well as about 150 volunteers from Reed Construction Data and Hanley Wood, are expected to assist with the project, which is scheduled for completion by late July. Currently, homeless youths who are part of Sasha Bruce’s Workforce Development Program are doing some pre-construction work at the site. On May 16, the renovation and expansion work is scheduled to get underway.

Project coordinators are still seeking donations of funds and materials, additional volunteers with skills in plumbing, electric, roofing, carpentry, flooring, siding and insulation, and volunteers who are willing to help wherever needed.

Beck said the total cost of the renovation is estimated at $450,000.

“Hopefully the donations for labor and materials will make up for a lot of it,” he said. “Hopefully we will end up only having to pay around $300,000 in cash.”

Issues |Housing|Public Housing|Youth

Region |Washington DC

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