Washington Heights community center a refuge for immigrants and homeless LGBTQ youth

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, Manhattan — Washington Heights is a neighborhood where State Assemblymember Carmen de la Rosa grew up.

Now, on the Corner of 179th Street and Fort Washington Avenue sits a remarkable refuge for people who feel they have nowhere else to go.

“We have so much more in common than what divides us," said de la Rosa. We are a community made up of different ethnicities."

De la Rosa took PIX11 News inside the Dominican Women’s Development Center. The mission at the center is to empower women. There are conference rooms for training and counseling, free child care, as well as what’s called the La Salla, the living room.

“They get demoralized, it’s not easy to navigate the shelter system,” said Katherine Dia, the program director.

In just two years since its opening, 120 young women between the ages of 14-24 have already come through these doors. It’s also a safe place for LGBTQ youths to come and find support.

D-Asia Preston says she left her Haitian family behind in Miami four years ago and never looked back.

“I couldn’t give up. I was all I had. I can’t allow my circumstances to get the best of me. I have to overcome ,” said Preston.

Preston was homeless and she says felt hopeless until she found this center. She says after four years of struggling, she now feels strong, confident and has a new apartment in the Bronx, her first apartment.

“Never give up. I want to be a voice for those who are voiceless,” said Preston.

For more information head to their website.

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