“Even though I’m young, I’m doing the best I can.”

So Much More Than Housing

Every year, 17,000 teens in New York City become pregnant. These young parents, most coming from the poorest neighborhoods in the City from families that are already struggling to survive, face enormous challenges. They have difficulty completing their education, often lack the support and childcare they need to work, and all too many become homeless.

One of those teens is Deedee, who gave birth to her daughter Nasiyah last year. She and her newborn were sharing a small room with her mother when all three were evicted after the neighbors complained about Nasiyah’s crying. With nowhere else to go, Deedee and her daughter went to a teen homeless shelter. The shelter, which can only house residents for 30 days, referred Deedee to Inwood House’s Victory House, where she can stay for 18 months while attending school, working part-time, and learning to care for Nasiyah.

“Victory House is helping me stay focused,” she said. “I’ve never had this kind of support before. They’re helping me to be a lot more independent — they’ve taught me that I can get my diploma, work, and take care of my daughter. If I don’t do it, I know that no one’s going to do it for us.”

One of the things she’s most grateful for has been the parenting education. Program staff use video as a tool to show Deedee how her actions and words affect Nasiyah. At the end of the program, Deedee will get a video of her and her baby as a keepsake and remembrance of this special time together.

“I learned that Nasiyah learns from everything I do,” says Deedee. “I’m teaching her things even when I don’t realize it. The videos show me that I’m a good mom. Even though I’m young, I’m doing the best I can to take care of my daughter and take care of us. I’m really doing this.”

Part of Inwood House at The Children’s Village, Victory House offers housing and support to young women. While there, they receive life-skills training and health information, and work on plans to advance their education in meaningful ways, to prepare for a career, and to become independent.

To hear from Deedee in her own voice, see the Our Stories archive.

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