From 99% Invisible, a five and half part series that asks what we’re doing to help people get back inside.
Chapter 5: Housing Finally
If homelessness is the problem, housing is the solution. But it’s not always that simple. Kate Cody has been living in her encampment community for a long time. And there’s no guarantee she’ll be able to make the transition inside, even with the golden ticket. More at 99pi.org/need
Chapter 4: The List
When Tulicia Lee tried to get help with housing, she was essentially put on a big long list with a bunch of other homeless people. If you live in the U.S., your community probably has a list like this too. Where one ends up on the list can have huge implications, but how one rises to the top of it is a bit of a mystery. In this episode, Katie finally gets to see how it works. More at 99pi.org/need
Chapter 3: Housing First
In the 1980s, a psychologist named Sam Tsemberis was working with mentally ill homeless people on the streets of New York. Sometimes, when he thought it was necessary to keep someone safe, Sam would have people committed to a psychiatric hospital. But a few months later, he’d notice that person was back on the streets. Sam knew he needed to try something different. What he did changed everything about the way we think about solving homelessness.
In this episode, what happens when you ask people what they need.
Chapter 2: The Hotline
Katie heard a lot about 211 doing this reporting—from homeless people and service providers and advocates. In her mind, it was the 911 of homelessness. Only, more often than not, it seemed like when people called 211, the metaphorical ambulance never came. That was true for Tulicia Lee, and it was true for lots of other people she met.
If everyone starts at 211, why is it a dead-end for so many people? What is happening at 211? At the beginning of March, right before everything shut down for the pandemic, Katie spent a day in the 211 call center.
Chapter 1: Tulicia
When we think about homelessness, we often have a certain image in our mind—people pushing shopping carts, or big sprawling tent encampments. But for the vast majority of homeless people, the experience is far less visible. Many people who are unable to afford a place to live end up sleeping on a friend’s floor or inside their car. This is what Tulicia did for years, until finally, she reached out to the system for help
According to Need: Prologue
Last year, reporter Katie Mingle moved into a new apartment in a gentrifying neighborhood in north Oakland. As she settled into the new place and started meeting neighbors, it didn’t take long before she realized that some were homeless.
Very informative without any virtue signaling or shaming.
Humane and Thoughtful Reporting
I’ve pretty thoroughly retreated from my pre-pandemic diet of public interest stories, New Yorker articles, news podcasts. Because they’re all reported from basements? Because they just make me feel more stuck at home? I’m not totally sure why or why this series feels different. But it does. Maybe something about the vividness of the characters and the reporter's genuine empathy.
Most often, empathy comes from being able to put yourself in someone’s shoes. The incredible reporting by Katie Mingle in this series puts a humanizing face to the houselessness that I’ve seen daily in the multiple cities I’ve lived in. It has galvanized me to do something more proactive in my community to improve this system and I hope it does the same for you. Please listen and share!