“Talk About Home” is a series of videotaped interviews about the importance of “home” and how we can solve our affordable housing and homelessness crisis. I interview pedestrians, people in need of affordable housing or homeless services, community leaders, and (hopefully) candidates running for State Legislative Office.
(A full list of the videos is near the bottom of this page.)
But first a little bit about why I am doing the project.
The National Low-Income Housing Coalition reports that Minnesota’s Housing Wage is $15.50 an hour (the wage to afford an average 2-bedroom apartment). Yet, the average renter wage is $12.17 per hour.
Low-wage workers cannot afford to live in Minnesota.
Minnesotans have unfortunately grown to accept historic levels of homelessness. The latest estimate from the Wilder Research Center says that 13,100 people experienced homelessness on just one night.
Homelessness has quadrupled in Minnesota over the past 20 years.
I want to help advance policies that make housing affordable and ending homelessness. I think involving the general public and using messages that resonate with them are key to getting this done.
So, two or three times a week I head out for an afternoon or evening to some public place and panhandle for videotaped interviews. I hold a sign reading “Talk About Home video project … got 2 minutes?” with a video camera and tripod at my side.
Invariably, I get a batch of people to walk up to me and ask “What are you up to?” or to simply say “I’ve got 2 minutes.”
Without providing prep time or scripting I tell them that I am interviewing people about the meaning of home. Then, I turn on the camera. I ask:
- When you think of “home,” what do you think of?
- Is there a particular memory that pops into your mind when you think of “home?”
- Full-time, low-wage workers can’t afford a home in this community. How do you react to that?
- Homelessness has quadrupled in Minnesota over the past 20 years. Why do you think this is? What do you think should be done?
Thus far, I have interviewed 145 people:
- Habitat for Humanity volunteer talks about advocacy, individual and systemic (August 9th)
- Street performer takes about the value of home, work, and friends (August 2nd) ♦$
- How do we reduce the distance between us and them? (August 2nd) $ß
- It’s not “where do we put homeless people?” It’s “how do we fix HOME-LESS-NESS.” (July 29th) $
- Emerging leader talks about homelessness and why she has hope (July 30th) $
- Home is where family is, chasing butterflies through the neighborhood, & representing Grandma (July 23 – 26th) ß
- Should living in housing you can’t afford be a “fact of life” (July 23rd & 24th) $
- Alexis gives most appropriate response to growth in childhood homelessness (July 23rd) $ß
- Unaccompanied youth often couch-hop or -couch surf while homeless (July 22rd) ♦
- Andrew ponders housing stats & child homelessness (July 22nd) $
- Fleeing domestic violence often leads to homelessness (July 22nd) $
- “What are people willing to do to end homelessness?” (July 15th) ♥$
- Without housing, people still work to create “home” ♥ß
- Beautiful memories and thoughts of home (July 8th) ♦ß
- Housing is out of reach to many Americans (July 8th) ♦$
- Downtown in Minneapolis (June 7th) ♦$
- Jen and Brent on the Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis (June 7th) $
- two interviews at Como Lake before a rainstorm (June 6th) $
- at Lake Harriet (primarily) in Minneapolis (June 3rd and 4th) $
- interview w/ TC Habitat for Humanity Board Member (June 4th)
- an interview w/ Patrick at Lake Phalen in St. Paul (June 3rd)
- at corner of Broadway & Dupont in Minneapolis (May 30th) ♦ß
- at Como Park in St. Paul, MN (May 28th) ♦♥ß
- a sole interview with Jada at the U of MN (May 22nd) ♥
- at Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis (May 21st)
- on the Peace Plaza in Rochester (May 14th)
- at the Rosedale Mall in Roseville (May 10th) ♦
- Downtown in Minneapolis (May 8th) ♦ß
- at the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis (May 7th) ♦ß
- in Dinkytown in Minneapolis (May 6th) $ß
Here is what home means to me.
The next phase of this project is to capture different advocacy organizations’ viewpoints on making housing affordable and ending homelessness. The inaugural conversation took place with National Coalition for the Homeless staff members Neil Donovan, Megan Hustings, and Michael Stoops.
$ the gap between wages and housing costs gets strong reactions
♦ includes video from someone who has self identified as having experienced homelessness
♥ includes video from someone who has someone close to them who’s experienced homelessness
ß includes some particularly beautiful / moving memories of “home”
For my impressions of “Talk About Home” a couple months into the project, check out my guest post on MHP Connect, a blog by the Minnesota Housing Partnership.