Mya Martinez

Mya Martinez

My name is Mya Martinez and I grew up on the west side of the Bronx. I’m 19 and I’m from Webster. I bounced from New York to Florida a little bit, because I was in foster care. But, I grew up here.

Going through the years and phases of my life, I feel like I have grown every single year. I’ve become a new person each time.

I’m proud of the work that I’ve been able to accomplish at such a young age, including our work on YouthNPower, and doing research and organizing work. I got to meet the mayor. When my work on this project as a researcher started to benefit and serve other people, that’s when I really started to be proud of myself. I’m building a sense of community with a financial income.

All of these things made me proud. I love to see our progress. To actually jump into something you’re scared of and continue doing it takes a lot of courage. Things may not come as fast as I want, but I love to see my work develop.

With the project and my own experience, I can see that people who have been through foster care shouldn’t have to struggle with finances and housing like I have.

When I turned 18, it was like I was thrown to the wolves. That was very much the preface of everything. I didn’t have the basic support to be an adult. I just recently got my ID and I still don’t have a passport. I needed to work but I didn’t have any support from my community. It was the same with finding housing. I didn’t know anything about needing to have the first month’s rent and a security deposit.  I didn’t know that a real estate agent charges a fee. No one explained to me that landlords would look at my credit score to see if I could afford living there, or how to apply for low-income housing, or which programs I might qualify for. I set a goal for myself to move out and have my own spot before I’m 20. I’m sticking to that goal but it is hard. Even though I am working and going to school, I don’t think I’m financially stable to the point where I could pay the first month’s rent and actually get things for my apartment. I really want and need my own space.

Sometimes, I feel a lot of pressure to be somewhere that I am not. I can feel like I am failing.  My anxiety goes through the roof with school work, my family, and figuring out where I am going.  My head just starts pacing. Recently, I had a sit down conversation with my mom where I realized that I’ve been overwhelming myself. I’m still learning to deal with my past trauma. That’s something that I struggled with because I had a tendency to put everything under the rug.  Imagine a treasure chest. I would put everything in there and lock it away forever.

I can take on too much, work too hard, forget about what I am eating, and not sleep well.  It impacts my health and other people see it. I see now that I had to grow up really fast. That impacted my goals and now I feel like I need to be further along that road to being an adult than I am.  I need to know how to take care of myself.  It’s on me.

I would like the government to focus on making housing more accessible to young adults. It’s been so hard for me, not having a credit history really took a toll on my process. So I would like the government to make it easier to qualify for housing that doesn’t involve Nycha.