MORE THAN HOMELESS is a PhotoVoice project about what it’s like to be LGBTQ+ and also experience homelessness as a young person in Connecticut. PhotoVoice is a research method that gives people who typically are not heard a voice and a platform to share their personal experiences with the community using the power of photography and storytelling.
Usually, when we think of homelessness, we think of older people sleeping on the streets and holding signs that ask for money. But in reality, people experience homelessness in many different ways. Young people tend to be hidden from public view – often couch surfing with friends, or living in cars or abandoned buildings, vulnerable to drugs and trafficking and prostitution, sometimes trading sex for shelter and food.
When I first heard about the Youth Action Hub taking on this project, I was excited right off the bat, especially because I’ve been wanting to learn photography using a professional camera.
Each of us told our own personal stories for the PhotoVoice project. I wanted to go back to the shelter where my mom and I had stayed, but I was afraid that I wouldn’t get permission to take a photo there. But they were actually very supportive of the project. When I went to the shelter to take the photo, it was a little emotional being in that setting because the last time I walked into that shelter, my father was still alive. Normally when I sat at the table pictured in my photo, my mother and I would eat dinner there and then walk up the hill to go see my dad at the nursing home he was in. Even though it was a bit emotional for me returning to that location, I felt great doing this project because we were breaking stereotypes about homelessness and promoting the change we want to see.
I hope you will come to our PhotoVoice exhibit to hear more of my story and other young people’s experiences. If you would like to meet us (the photographers and writers), come to the opening-day reception. The exhibit is displayed at the LOB until Feb 28th; contact us at the information below if you would like a personal tour by one of the photographers/writers. After February 28th, the PhotoVoice exhibit will move to the Lyceum at 227 Lawrence Street in Hartford.
If you would like more information on an exhibit tour or a presentation by one of the Youth Action Hub, contact us at YouthActionHubCT@gmail.com or at 203-516-0461.
Author: Mel Serrano, Youth Action Hub Researcher
My name is Jay Perry; I’m 25 years old and I have lived in Hartford almost my whole life. I grew up in the DCF (Department of Children and Families) system. I was abandoned by my parents when I was only two months old because I was really sick, and I was placed in a foster home. Throughout my childhood and teens, I was placed in foster homes and then moved to new ones because a lot of the foster homes were short-term and because I still had some medical problems and required special care. I liked some of my foster families, but sometimes it was harder for me to adjust, because it was a new environment, new people, new everything.
Read more at: http://www.pschousing.org/news/finding-family-and-community-through-youth-action-hub
I’ve always been a joyful person, even when things hit rock bottom. I’ve always tried to see the silver lining of situations no matter what was happening. We were living in these beautiful apartments in New Britain. We were one of the first ones to move in. They were called the “projects” but they didn’t look like any projects; they looked like condos. They were just beautiful. Then in July 2014, my mother lost her job.
Read more at: http://www.pschousing.org/news/its-not-end-world-it-will-get-better
“Over the past year and a half, I have been working as a youth researcher with the Youth Action Hub (YAH). YAH is a center of research and advocacy guided by Dr. Heather Mosher at the Institute for Community Research. Our most recent study focused on understanding and improving young people’s access to information and housing-related services in Connecticut.”
Click here to read Natalie Garcia’s full blog
These researchers are helping Connecticut end youth homelessness
“In June of 2016, the Youth Action Hub held a meeting with key stakeholders across Connecticut to share their research findings. Artemis stood at the front of the conference room, leading a presentation on how youth experiencing homelessness in Connecticut find information and resources to get help. The audience, which included the Commissioner for the Connecticut Department of Housing, listened intently and took notes.
But for Artemis, a researcher with the Youth Action Hub, this work is anything but academic. Two years ago she was homeless herself, bouncing from couch to couch, and eventually in the dead of winter, sleeping in her car.
Artemis was one of the roughly 3,000 young people in Connecticut who don’t have a safe and stable place to call home. As a queer-identified youth, her experiences mirror those of 40% of youth experiencing homelessness. And like her peers, she is resilient. With housing and services, she was able to go to school and work to support herself.”
Read the full article: http://melvilletrust.org/grantee/youth-action-hub/
“As a youth living in Hartford, I have always had to deal with many hardships. Raised by a single mother, our family struggled a lot, and as the oldest sibling, I’ve had to work harder than most people my age just to help my family to get through each day, working part-time jobs after school or on weekends. My mom is really committed to making sure we get an education, so she makes sure I also work hard in school, and I was just accepted to college. It was hard, because we moved a lot when we struggled to pay rent, and my siblings and I would sometimes have to stay with relatives or friends. But there were always people in my community going through similar problems or worse. Because of this, I’ve always felt a need to help others, to better my community and to give back. It has always given me joy to help people in need, and in Hartford there’s no lack of people who could use a helping hand.”
Click here to read Hub researcher Angel Cotto’s full blog
Click here to read the blog written about the Youth Action Hub by Artemis Fontaine, Hub researcher.
“I was once homeless. Eighteen years old in the dead of winter, all my belongings in my car – everything I needed daily in the front seat, all my clothes in the backseat, everything else I needed in the trunk, and the rest of it in a box in my mom’s closet. Needless to say, it was hard. Holy heck, it was hard. I met a lot of people in a similar situation while I was floating around from house to house struggling to get enough to eat, constantly looking for work I could hold down while trying to keep it secret that everything I held truly dear lived in my glove compartment. And with those people who knew my secret, the ones who were struggling like I was, I realized some of the most powerful camaraderie was borne of our shared struggles.”