Public housing

Richmond scheme to teach social housing students valuable skills

RICHMOND, Va. — Ahmonte Greene has his sights set on a bright future.

“My goal is to travel the world, learn new cultures, try new foods, travel to different countries, learn new things,” Greene said.

Greene had the chance to try new things last year when he joined the Youth Leadership Employment Academy (YLEA), a program funded and hosted by the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA).

Greene has worked with maintenance crews in his Hillside Court community and had the chance to hone valuable business and technical skills.

“Refrigerators, stoves. Working on people’s pipes, their bathrooms. I did a lot of things. It taught me some things. Social skills. Working in teams and meeting new people,” Greene said .

Green is pleased that the RRHA is reinstating the program this summer for students ages eight to 18 who live in public housing. He knows it can be a good distraction from the violent crime they’ve seen take over their neighborhood.

“I think it’s good because it gives kids the opportunity to learn something they haven’t learned before. Some kids are on the streets and some end up dead in a coffin, so I think RRHA has done the right thing in helping these kids when they come into the real world, they can do things that they already know how to do,” Greene said.

RRHA’s Angela Fountain said last year it employed 62 students and planned to double that number this summer. RRHA youth can apply to work in various departments.

“The program is not just a work program. It is also a leadership program. With this, they learn various social skills and they learn various household skills, such as budgeting and finances. Every division gets involved. Our administrative offices, whether it’s finance or housing choice, whether it’s communications, whether it’s the executive office. All of our maintenance people as well. We all get involved and look, if there is a student who wants to work with us, we want to work with them.

Greene believes the skills he learned through the program will help him in the future. He wishes the same to the other young people participating in YLEA this summer and encourages them with his best advice.

“If a child has a dream they want to pursue, go for it. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t pursue your dreams. Because some people don’t pursue their dreams and end up dying and in jail. They can do anything if they put their mind to it. That’s my best advice to them and my best advice is to never give up on anything.”

Students who live in public housing can now apply for the YLEA on linevia social media or by calling their resort’s Resident Services department.

The deadline to apply is June 15.