Since 2007, LaToya Young has worked as the Housing Resource & Training Manager at the District Alliance for Safe Housing in Washington, DC. A native Washingtonian, she works with survivors and service providers – some people coming for assistance directly from the street, some who are referred to DASH. She also works with DASH’s innovative program, the Empowerment Project, where she connects with landlords and realtors to help them understand domestic violence and consider partnering with DASH in locating affordable, safe housing for clients. Additionally, she leads a host of different kinds of trainings for DASH.
Young works with all new domestic violence advocates in the District through the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence. She teaches these newcomers about the local and federal protections that survivors have under the Violence Against Women Act, and helps new advocates get acclimated to the work and the field. Through DASH, she also leads a DV 101 class on the barriers that domestic violence survivors face, and how individuals and communities can support them. DASH and the Housing Resource Center also point housing programs and staff to Young’s trainings, showing people what is available for survivors and pointing out emerging options.
Interally, she trains all DASH staff on housing resources and process. People know of Young and DASH’s work through community outreach and education, as she and other staff regularly attend a host of community meetings. There have also been a lot of referrals to lead service providers to Young. Requests for training are also made through the DASH website. “People are fascinated by how DASH works, and want to learn more,” says Young.
But what makes DASH so different in terms of its community work to address domestic violence? “It is really the culture,” Young explains. “We have few barriers – really none – for survivors interested in accessing our services. We allow survivors to be self-governing. We know that when given the chance, these clients can make good decisions, and are not interested in taking that power away from them. Power was already taken from them in the abuse, and we don’t want to do that again as an organization.”
Before coming to DASH, Young worked for three years at a “Housing First” organization, helping chronically mentally ill people to secure permanent housing. It gave her the expertise she is currently able to use in her work with DASH. She is very passionate about her work with survivors.
“What I also love about DASH is that while we are new in the field of dv prevention, we are very open to learning from and helping others in the movement and the field,” Young shares. “We are also committed to learning from survivors and working with them to help break the cycle of violence and create healthy lives. We are unique in how we as a staff come to understand social and economic justice, and how we commit, as a staff, to learning and growing.”
Contact DASH for more information on participating in one of Ms. Young’s trainings.