A Safe Haven: What Immigrant and Refugee Families Need to Know

By Khadija Diallo, Project Assistant, Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness

 

Image 1 Times Ayan and Muna
Ayan Rashid, 14, and her sister Muna Rashid, 4, inside their apartment in Kent. According to the 2015 Seattle Times article “Unsettled: Immigrants Search for their ‘Forever’ Homes in Seattle,” this family lived in a refugee camp for years. Photo Credit: Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times

 

Just imagine: you are 25 years old, a mother of three from Somalia and you have lived in Washington for two years. You don’t speak English; you have no relatives in any surrounding area or knowledge of resources available to you. To top it all off, you’re no longer able to pay your rent bill, so you and your children end up homeless. What next?

What if you were a single father of two who became homeless, yet found shelter at Mary’s Place, but are an undocumented immigrant. What rights do you have? Can you be arrested at the shelter?

With a new administration underway and impending immigration sweeps nationwide, it’s important for immigrants and refugees to know their rights. It’s also important for families experiencing housing instability to know what resources are available to them.

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Moving Hearts, Changing Minds About Homeless Students: NAEHCY’s Annual Conference

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

Paving the way image 1 

Caption: This poster from the conference just about sums it up: all children, including those who are homeless, deserve equal access to educational opportunity. Image from NAEHCY.org

As a first-time attendee at the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAECHY) annual conference in Kansas City, October 25-28, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

But the opportunity to learn about where the field of “homeless education” is going, and what that might mean for the work we do on the Project on Family Homelessness, was just too exciting and important to miss.

It turns out my premonition was correct. The conference sparked ideas that I was able to apply very soon after my return, in a discussion about a local school district that is struggling to support its children who are homeless. Continue reading

The Smiths — The Film About Homelessness That Had To Be Made

A new animated film about family homelessness and helping neighbors 

By Lisa Gustaveson, Project Manager for Seattle University’s Faith & Family Homelessness Project

As program manager for Seattle University’s Faith & Family Homelessness Project, I spend much of my time visiting local emergency shelters, churches, synagogues and mosques. During my visits, I often meet dedicated volunteers who spend countless hours providing meals, collecting clothes, back to school supplies, and hygiene items, for people experiencing homelessness (you all know who you are!).

During these visits, the question I am most frequently asked by volunteers is, does any of this make a difference? They wonder if they really are helping to end family homelessness.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and unappreciated when the number of homeless families seems to grow every day. It’s also hard to find the best way to describe the importance of each and every act of kindness, how all those little gestures make a difference.

That’s why I was so excited when I learned about filmmaker Neely Goniodsky’s plans to create the short animated film, “The Smiths,” as part of Seattle University’s Film and Family Homelessness Project.

“The Smiths” is one of four short films created through the project, collectively titled “American Refugees.”

 

The Smiths American refugees

A still from the film “The Smiths.” The vivid colors used throughout the film convey the intense emotions of a family who is homeless, as they try to make ends meet.

I was a member of the project’s advisory team, so I had the opportunity to read the proposal by Neely Goniodsky. As I read it, I knew that the film should be – no, HAD to be – made.

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“Super Dads”: Stories of Resilience from Children and Fathers Faced with Homelessness

By Haley Jo Lewis, project assistant, Seattle University’s Project on Family Homelessness and Communication senior, Seattle U

Note: This is the second in a series in which we ask our staff to react to the “American Refugees” film that most appealed to them.

 

Life as a homeless family is “really scary.”

“Really scary…really scary. I can’t explain.” This quote from the film “Super Dads” reflects the raw honesty found within the accounts of homeless fathers interviewed by the filmmakers.

Unrelenting to sadness, weakness and fear: A father’s words are supposed to be filled with strength. In the film “Super Dads,” however, homeless fathers open up about their greatest fears, hardships, and struggles as they talk about their experiences being homeless — something they never thought they’d face.

“Super Dads” hit me the hardest of  the four animated shorts in “American Refugees.” It was those stories of resilience that moved me most. Their hardships are all too real, and pull me back to a time when my own father was homeless, struggling to find a place where we could take solace.

 

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