Ward 1 Alderman Sarah Eidelson ’12 continued her advocacy for policies to improve the health and welfare of Elm City children last night at a New Haven Youth Services Committee meeting.
The committee, which Eidelson chairs, is currently working on converting the Dixwell Community “Q” House into a community center for youth and families, researching potential locations for future community centers through the Citywide Youth Spaces Feasibility Studies, and shrinking city crime using the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch Youth Violence Prevention Grant. The committee discussed the progress of each of these initiatives and brainstormed how to include New Haven youth in an ongoing conversation to improve their quality of life.
“I was really inspired to work on this youth agenda by the movement that was being led by people in the city already,” Eidelson said. “I’ve been really struck by how much young people are mobilizing and fighting for themselves.”
The Q House, which is located at 197 Dixwell Ave., closed six years ago. Currently, the city has allocated $40,000 in funding to the Q House project to determine whether the building is structurally sound or needs to be knocked down. The youth committee expects to have a plan to assess the Q house in approximately a month, Eidelson said.
However, the committee does not have an estimated date for when the Q House will begin to be refurbished, and Eidelson said there will be a chance for community input before the project is finalized.
“We’ve been trying to make it a community process. That makes it slower, and that makes it substantially better,” Eidelson said.
However, Ward 23 Alderman Tyisha Walker, vice president of the youth committee, said that securing the $40,000 funding and hiring contractors is a strong step in the right direction.
“We should all be excited and encouraged,” she said. “We just need to stay focused and keep our eye on the prize, and we’ll get there.”
Committee members discussed creating a network of youth centers spread across the city. The committee envisioned that each facility will provide a different service, ranging from recreational services to legal support or academic help.
Ward 14 Alderman Santiago Berrios-Bones marked his first meeting attendance as an official youth committee member. He said that he wanted to be involved in the youth committee because he is concerned that young men are not set up to succeed in school and life.
“Females are going to college and getting degrees, but men aren’t,” Berrios-Bones explained.
Committee members also discussed ways to involve youth in their decision-making process. Some of the concepts discussed included visiting schools and identifying youth leaders in neighborhoods. While different ideas were discussed, members of the committee were unanimously convinced that reaching out to youth in New Haven would be useful so that they do not feel like “everybody is talking about them but nobody is trying to include them in the conversation,” Walker said.
At the meeting, Eidelson also distributed a letter from Sen. Chris Murphy expressing his gratitude for his meeting with New Haven youth on Feb. 20.
Correction: March 7
A previous version of this article mistakenly stated that contractors will report back to the New Haven Youth Committee about the state of the “Q” house in approximately a month. In fact, a plan for assessing the “Q” house will be completed in about a month.