Versatile Youth Service Provider Re-Thinks How to Deliver Help Faster

Sasha Bruce Youthwork

Sasha Bruce Youthwork, located at 741 8th Street, SE, Washington, D.C., is a place where young people can go for many services such as emergency shelter, STD testing and workforce development and education.

Established in 1974, the organization used to maintain a waitlist for each of these service they provide. Recently those lists have been combined into one list for Sasha Bruce services — an approach the organization calls First Stop. Additionally, Sasha Bruce is part of the city’s coordinated entry system, through which the waitlist for Sasha Bruce services is merged with a larger waitlist that can be seen by other youth-housing agencies around the city.

The different organizations can see the youth’s information and contact them directly when space for a specific program is available. Cotton likens this intake program to a “one stop shop.” Through Sasha Bruce, about 60 or 70 youth so far have applied to the new waitlist.

This intake program targets single youth between age 12 and 24 who are experiencing homelessness. According to Cotton, “they can have children [while on the waitlist], but they would need another place for their children to live if they were to get a call about housing.”

Jenise, who prefers to not list her last name, went through the Sasha Bruce program when she was homeless and had nowhere else to go. Since joining Sasha Bruce, she has graduated from high school and plans on attending cosmetology school. This may not have been possible without the help of Sasha Bruce, specifically the First Stop program.

“It’s a good program, they help you get what you need. They really look out for you,” says Jenise. Being on the First Stop list exposed her to other programs around the city and she was able to get referrals to other services that she would not have had access to without the combined list.

“It cuts down on energy and time that [homeless youth] might have spent trying to get to all of the different youth housing organizations,” Cotton said.

Many youth may not fully understand the services that are being offered and may hesitate to participate. To overcome this obstacle, Sasha Bruce plans to recruit by having other youth do outreach.

“The best way of getting the word out there to youth is through their peers,” Cotton said.

The goal is to help them understand that “it’s better to be on the list than not on the list.” As incentives to complete the intake process, outreach workers will offer gift cards for Chipotle and 4 bus tokens to the youth they speak with.

Region |Southeast|Washington DC

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