Local youth housing providers increase services for Spanish speakers

A sign in a living room reads "38% of homeless youth in D.C. identify as LGBTQ+. Let's change that number together."

A sign explaining SMYAL’s mission in one of their youth houses. Photo courtesy of SMYAL.

Three local housing and service providers for young people are expanding their programs for Spanish-speaking youth, thanks to a new grant. 

In the coming year, Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders (SMYAL), Latin American Youth Center (LAYC), and Sasha Bruce Youthwork will each receive $150,000 from Capitol One to ensure Spanish-speaking youth can access services, including shelters and housing programs. 

SMYAL, a local organization that supports LGBTQ+ youth, identified the need for bilingual outreach staff and targeted services last year, according to a press release announcing the grant. While government agencies must provide services in Spanish, people living outside or accessing case management often say it’s hard to receive services without speaking fluent English. According to the most recent annual survey of people experiencing homelessness, about 6% of D.C.’s population does not speak English fluently. Queer, Spanish-speaking youth especially face barriers that can make it hard to get support, Lupi Quinteros-Grady, president of the LAYC, said in the release. 

In the first year of SMYAL’s bilingual street outreach program, it served over 100 youth ages 16 to 24. The program, which will continue with this year’s grant, supports dedicated bilingual staff, outreach supplies and document translation, and connects young people to housing, legal services, employment, documents, health care and emergency resources. 

This year, LAYC, which has over 50 bilingual programs supporting low-income youth, will also receive funding to connect young people with support, expanding the number of people the program is able to reach. At Sasha Bruce, a large local youth service provider, the money will help make drop-in centers and street outreach programs more accessible for Spanish-speaking young people, Executive Director Debbie Shore said in the announcement. 

“Through this program, we are connecting a whole range of queer people to services who can’t find support anywhere else because of language barriers or immigration status,” Sierra Barnedo, street outreach manager at SMYAL, said. 

To connect to SMYAL, contact the SMYAL Youth House office at 202-567-3166 or [email protected]. For a housing referral at LAYC, visit their drop-in center at 3045 15th Street NW or call (202) 768-7801. Sasha Bruce’s drop in center (located at 741 8th St SE) can be reached at 202-547-7777. 

Tres organizaciones tienen recursos para los jóvenes entre 16 y 24 años. Llame a 202-567-3166 o mande un correo electrónico a [email protected] para conectar con la casa de jóvenes de SMYAL. Para obtener una referencia de vivienda de LAYC, visite sus oficinas en 3045 15th Street NW o llame a (202) 768-7801. Sasha Bruce tiene un refugio en 741 8th St SE, y puede llamarlo a 202-547-7777.

Issues |Youth

Region |Washington DC

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