Two Worlds Collide: Inequality in America

A “Sleep Out” in Washington, D.C.’s Freedom Plaza during Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week in mid-November. Photo Credit: Laura Tarnosky, <a href="" target="_blank"><span class="s1">Street Sense.</span></a>
A “Sleep Out” in Washington, D.C.’s Freedom Plaza during Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week in mid-November. Photo Credit: Laura Tarnosky, Street Sense.
Written by Lindsey Habenicht, Seattle University student and project assistant, Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness

Wandering around the streets of downtown Washington, D.C., and trying to find the building where I interned for the summer, I passed by eight people on the streets. A cacophony of voices—begging and pleading for someone to help—overwhelmed me, as did my inability to help them on my own. I had been in the District for less than 24 hours and already witnessed the plight of people who are homeless in excruciating detail. No matter where I walked, I continued to hear the same calls:

“Excuse me, do you have any change?”

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A Night of Optimism About Homelessness — All Home’s “Engage-Raiser”


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Our partner Erin Murphy of Housing Development Consortium inspired this “Polaroid frame” designed for maximum photo sharing, complete with logo and hashtag #allhomeoptimism.

More than 200 energized community members gathered at the new Optimism Brewing Co. on Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood Tuesday night, Nov. 17, for “All Home @ Optimism.” Continue reading

The Moth


“It is brilliant and quietly addictive” – The London Guardian

“New York’s hottest and hippest literary ticket” – The Wall Street Journal

The Moth is an acclaimed not-for-profit organization dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling. It is a celebration of both the raconteur, who breathes fire into true tales of ordinary life, and the storytelling novice, who has lived through something extraordinary and yearns to share it. At the center of each performance is, of course, the story – and The Moth’s directors work with each storyteller to find, shape and present it. Continue reading

Invisible Families — Five Years After the Landmark Seattle Times Series on Family Homelessness

Seattle Times 29 Aug 2010 Front PageBy Catherine Hinrichsen, project manager, Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness

The crashing ocean waves were the score to my quest on a Saturday night five years ago, at a quiet seaside housing development on the Washington coast. I excused myself from our little multi-family gathering around 10 p.m. to go stake out the central office, in search of an Internet connection. Though it was after hours and the building was closed, the wifi was still on. I lugged my heavy, ancient laptop to a pillar with a ledge and propped it up, typing into the search bar “”… Would it be there? And what would it say? Continue reading

Forging New Partnerships in Family Homelessness and Health

Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry's Faith & Family Homelessness Project

By Hannah Hunthausen, Program Coordinator, Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry

Imagine living and sleeping day after day in your car in 90 degree heat, shuttling your daughter to and from work and trying to get yourself to dialysis three times per week. This is the situation Lana and her 23-year-old daughter Rachel found themselves in this summer.[1] Mother and daughter were evicted from their two-bedroom apartment in Renton last year when Lana’s kidneys failed and she could no longer work to keep up on rent. Like many families, they opted to hold on to their vehicle and the little bit of security and freedom it still offers them;  they can keep their stuff relatively safe, and get to appointments and work more easily than if they were living at a shelter. Lana and Rachel are just one of several families and individuals profiled in Real Change

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Wired for Empathy: Why We Can’t Resist Good Narrative

Editor’s note: This is re-posted from Firesteel and is the first installment of a three-part series on storytelling, empathy, and advocacy.

the-call-of-the-wild-1200x726Written by Perry Firth, project coordinator, Seattle University’s Project on Family Homelessness and school psychology graduate student

I was mesmerized by Jack London’s Alaska: beautiful, severe, raw.

A skinny second grader belly down on the carpet of my bedroom floor, I was reading long after my parents had turned off my light.

But I had no choice! London’s writing had transported me to another world, free of the mundane realities that plague children, like a set bedtime and parents.

In this new world I empathized with London’s protagonist, a sled dog named Buck in Call of the Wild.

What is so powerful about this memory in hindsight is not that it marked the first time I fell in love with independent reading, but that it is a collective experience. Absolute absorption in a compelling story is something that almost all people can relate to; it is universal.

This absorption in another’s world happens, to varying degrees of intensity, every time we hear, read (or watch) a good story.

So here’s what fascinates me: Why does this happen? What is so important—evolutionarily—about stories that they command our attention in a way few things can? And are there stories that impact us more than others? Why does this occur? And, to be addressed a little later in this series, what does the hardwired human preference for stories mean for social justice advocates?

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Portraits of Homelessness

Sharing the Depth of the Human Experience: “Portraits of Homelessness” at the 2015 Global Street Paper Summit

By Lindsey Habenicht, Project Assistant, Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness

Lindsey with conference passEditor’s Note: Seattle University hosted the International Network of Street Papers (INSP)  Global Street Paper Summit June 24-26, 2015, which welcomed more than 120 journalists from street papers in 22 countries, including Seattle’s Real Change. Our assistant, Lindsey Habenicht (above), is spending the summer as an intern for one of those papers, Street Sense of Washington, D.C. Before she left Seattle, Lindsey attended the Summit as a street paper communicator and volunteer blogger. This is an adapted version of Lindsey’s post for the Summit.

The narrative of what homelessness is and is not is often uninformed, uneducated, and even unknown completely. While many are aware of the issue of homelessness, they remain unaware of the person: the veteran, the child, the musician, the artist, the entrepreneur, and the like.

“Why is that?” asked Rex Hohlbein of Facing Homelessness. “How could [we] be so disconnected from the simple and obvious fact that homelessness involves real people with real suffering?”


Keynote speaker Rex Holbein started the Facebook page “Homeless in Seattle”’ in March of 2011 to share something beautiful about each person living on the street. Photo courtesy of

Rex was the keynote speaker at the Global Street Paper Summit’s opening night event, “Portraits of Homelessness,” June 24, which told stories through more than 100 works of visual art, films and audio recordings. Continue reading

Trauma-Informed Care, StoryCorps, and Host Homes for Youth: Some Highlights From WLIHA’s Conference on Ending Homelessness

Written by Perry Firth, project coordinator, Seattle University’s Project on Family Homelessness and school psychology graduate student

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Caption: This image captures just how many people attended WLIHA’s Conference on Ending Homelessness. As you can see, we were a big crowd! Image from WLIHA.

 This year I had the pleasure of attending the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance’s Conference on Ending Homelessness in Tacoma, May 13-14. I was there with over 800 people (the largest turnout yet), all devoted to making homelessness rare, brief and one time.

There were many highlights, including Firesteel’s presentation on StoryCorps and strategic communications, the Project on Family Homelessness’s “Dessert Dash” and StoryCorps workshop, and the sessions on host homes for homeless youth and trauma-informed care.

Firesteel shows how StoryCorps can be a valuable communication tool

I loved Firesteel’s presentation on StoryCorps and strategic communications. As part of the Project on Family Homelessness, I have had the honor of helping the StoryCorps effort reach its full potential. As the Firesteel team and Joaquin of WLIHA discussed StoryCorps’ many uses and the role of strategic communications in ending homelessness, I was reminded of how many lives this project has touched.

This was further emphasized to me when our own team hosted a workshop and “Dessert Dash” with Sherry and Franklin Gilliard—a family whose courage in the face of home loss and homelessness was profiled on NPR’s Friday StoryCorps segment this past November. Continue reading