The Project

During the fall semesters of 2010 and 2011, Duke students participated in a service-learning course entitled “Documentary Engagement,” supported by The Hart Leadership Program at the Sanford School of Public Policy and the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke. Each week, in addition to traditional in-classroom participation and assignments, students were required to visit and get to know individuals associated with the local organization, Housing for New Hope, in order to more directly understand the complex roots of homelessness.

Housing for New Hope provides supportive services through Presbyterian Urban Ministry, PATH Outreach to homeless persons with mental illness, a Re-Housing Team, Transitional Housing for single men (Phoenix House) and single women (Dove House), Permanent Housing (at Andover Apartments, Sherwood Park Apartments and Williams Square Apartments), and through its Alumni Program.

Over the course of both semesters, students were introduced to and began working with their subjects:  building a relationship– through sharing a meal, attending an event, serving at Urban Ministries, visiting with extended family and friends, doing outreach in the woods and under bridges, and talking a lot. These pieces reflect the relationship  trust, mutual respect, and friendships that grew out of the assignment for this class.

As a final project, each student produced a five to eight minute audio slideshow rendering the story of one person they met through HNH. Collectively, the ten stories featured here on this website illustrate the complex factors contributing to homelessness today, as well as reveal the programs and supports that enable people in crisis to move towards lives marked by increased levels of stability, dignity, hope and independence.

All media collected over the course of the semester will be given to HNH for use in their print materials and on their website.

For questions about the course, please contact professors Alex Harris and Elena Rue.


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