Lawmakers Meet With Young Survivors Of Homelessness | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

: News

Filed Under:

Lawmakers Meet With Young Survivors Of Homelessness

Play associated audio
Jasmine Williams, second from right, and William Iannuzzi, front bottom, are among the formerly homeless young people meeting with members of Congress this week. Also pictured, from top left: Herman Joseph, Charlotte Fonseca, Tyrell Ray.
Rebecca Sheir
Jasmine Williams, second from right, and William Iannuzzi, front bottom, are among the formerly homeless young people meeting with members of Congress this week. Also pictured, from top left: Herman Joseph, Charlotte Fonseca, Tyrell Ray.

By Rebecca Sheir

Advocates for homeless and runaway young people are asking Congress to expand funding for services. And they're asking lawmakers to meet face to face with young adults who understand the value of those programs all too well.

For Jasmine Williams, the trouble began about four years ago.

"I started suffering from sexual abuse from the age of 14 at the hands of my stepfather," says Williams. "And eventually he grew tired of me, and that led to my being homeless."

Williams spent a total of seven months on the street.

"My dad used to tell me all the time, there's no one out here for you,'" she says. "'You're gonna be just like all those other girls, ya know, prostitutin.' You're screwed, basically."

But Williams who's back in school and heading to college, says she refused to believe that. And as part of this weeks [National Network For Youth](< symposium="" she="" share="" her="" story="" with="" members="" of="" congress="">

Joining her is 22-year-old William Iannuzzi, who was homeless for a year after his parents kicked him out for being gay.

"Look, we need help," he says. "We need supplies. We need something, you know?"

Last month Congress appropriated $750,000 for the Federal Runaway and Homeless Youth Act. But the National Network for Youth says that isn't nearly enough, since the recession has weakened programs, and tossed more people onto the street.

Williams says lawmakers know that, "...and a lot of their attitudes are, 'that's a shame. I wish it wasn't like that.' So what I want to tell them is don't pity me; help me."

The National Network for Youth is asking Congress to appropriate $165 million for outreach, shelter and other services to support the young people who are homeless now and to prevent new ones from taking their places.

< />

NPR

If Robots 'Speak,' Will We Listen? Novel Imagines A Future Changed By AI

As artificial intelligence alters human connection, Louisa Hall's characters wrestle with whether machines can truly feel. Some "feel they have to stand up for a robot's right to exist," Hall says.
NPR

Aphrodisiacs Can Spark Sexual Imagination, But Probably Not Libido

Going on a picnic with someone special? Make sure to pack watermelon, a food that lore says is an aphrodisiac. No food is actually scientifically linked to desire, but here's how some got that rep.
NPR

A Reopened Embassy In Havana Could Be A Boon For U.S. Businesses

When the U.S. reopens its embassy in Havana, it will increase its staff. That should mean more help for American businesses hoping to gain a foothold on the Communist island.
NPR

In A Twist, Tech Companies Are Outsourcing Computer Work To ... Humans

A new trend is sweeping the tech world: hiring real people. NPR's Arun Rath talks to Wired reporter Julia Greenberg about why tech giants are learning to trust human instinct instead of algorithms.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.