Sassou : A Young Woman with Energy to Burn and an Eye for Décor
Making a real and lasting difference in young people’s lives
With the housing shortage becoming even more acute during the pandemic, I wanted to see for myself the impact of a stable living situation on vulnerable youth and their ability to achieve their dreams. So I sat down with Sassou in her apartment at Dans la rue Housing. It was a true privilege to meet this bright, motivated young woman.
Challenging stereotypes about young people in precarious situations
Sassou was waiting for me in the common room with Kris, one of the on-site counsellors. She seemed nervous about our visit, but I could also sense her enthusiasm and pride at being selected as the subject of this profile piece. She had been recommended to me by the counsellors as someone who kept her living space impeccably clean, who worked hard at school and who was the epitome of resilience.
As soon as I set foot in her light-filled apartment, I noticed all the motivational phrases and art on her walls. I was impressed by how well kept and attractive her place was. The stylish light fixtures, plants, artwork and family pictures were all worthy of a young professional’s loft, laying to rest any stereotypes or preconceived notions anyone might have of what youth in high-risk living situations might be like.
Feeling at home and gaining self-confidence
The first thing she wanted to show me was actually her shower curtain. She smiled as she told me the bright colours and psychedelic patterns always lifted her spirits when she was feeling down.
“It took time for this to feel right, but the more I decorated, the more it looked like me. Now, when I walk in, I’m right at home.”
A boost in the right direction
Like many of the youth who use our services, Sassou’s first contact with us was through the Bunker, in 2018, after she ran away from a youth centre. A few years later, the counsellors suggested she apply to become a Dans la rue Housing tenant.
Early on, she was petrified of failing and backsliding into her old habits. But a year later, she has found her bearings and she feels at home here.
Residential stability allows a return to school
It wasn’t long before this newfound residential stability had her back in regular classes. She was very proud to inform me that she had completed several elementary cycles and her first secondary cycle since returning to school.
“I’ve been back at school
ever since I got my place.”
After this visit, I felt even prouder to be part of the Dans la rue team, which lets youth move forward at their own pace and gives them a second chance. Although it often takes multiple attempts to make dreams come true, it’s much easier when there’s a helping hand there to guide you along the way.
Eliza Moses, Senior Advisor, Communications, Dans la rue