Meaningful Conversations About Family Homelessness


We know that stories are a powerful tool for advocacy.  That's why we're delighted to be the local coordinator for the StoryCorps project, "Finding Our Way:  Puget Sound Stories About Family Homelessness." 

Funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the project seeks to tell the stories of families who have experienced homelessness recently or in their distant past -- in their own words, as told to one another, or to a colleague or friend.

In summer 2014, we partnered with Catholic Community Services of Western Washington to collect stories in Tacoma, then moved to Snohomish and King counties to record with the YWCA Seattle ǀ King ǀ Snohomish. Additionally, StoryCorps producer Eve Claxton recorded stories throughout the region. In all, we have collected nearly 100 stories.

Want to know more about the KUOW broadcast of nine of our stories, and our events in May 2015 at the Gates Foundation and at the Conference on Ending Homelessness? Click to jump to What's Happening Now.

First Stories Aired on National Public Radio

StoryCorps' weekly broadcasts on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" reach 11 million listeners. Though we didn't know if any of the stories would be chosen for the weekly StoryCorps segment on National Public Radio, we're thrilled that so far three stories have aired nationally.

The first story aired on Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. In it, a mother and her teen daughter, Kris and Erika Kalberer, talked about what it's like for their family of four to live in a car in Seattle. This story provoked strong emotional reactions all over the country.

Erika and Kris Kalberer
Erika and Kris Kalberer, whose story aired on StoryCorps Aug. 22.

Then in late November 2014, we were delighted when the  second story from the project was chosen to air on the day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 28, 2014. In this story, the Gilliard family of Tacoma, who were living in transitional housing, talked about why they "feel blessed to wake up another day." A segment of their interview actually ended up being included in a PBS Newshour segment on StoryCorps, in addition to getting coverage in a great Firesteel post. 

The Gilliard family
The Gilliard family told their story on StoryCorps on Nov. 28, 2014.
StoryCorps rang in New Year's Day 2016 with a third national story from our project: Charlotte Wheelock and Nick Hodges, whose love for each other and for their children helped them get through Nick's medical crisis and the homelessness that resulted from it. The story that aired on Jan. 1, 2016 during "Morning Edition" was an update of the version that KUOW broadcast in summer 2016 (see below). 


What's Happening Now

      • KUOW: StoryCorps produced seven more of the stories they collected, and those aired on KUOW, Puget Sound Public Radio, in summer 2015. One story per week aired through July 7. Find them here.
      • Firesteel Site: We've also been working with StoryCorps and Firesteel to produce a collection of stories that are housed on a beautiful, searchable section of the Firesteel website, available for sharing. Currently there are about 28 new fully produced stories, plus another 50 or so raw 40-minute recordings -- the most comprehensive audio archive about family homelessness in our region, if not the country.  Check out the Firesteel StoryCorps page here.
      • COEH: On Wednesday, May 13, 2015, at the Conference on Ending Homelessness in Tacoma, we hosted an evening event with Firesteel and Catholic Community Services featuring the Gilliard family. Thank you to the Gilliards, and to everyone who attended.
      • Community Event: On Tuesday, May 19, 2015, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center hosted a free community event about the StoryCorps project, co-presented by KUOW and Seattle University. You can listen to the 90-minute recording by KUOW here. See a brief recap via a Storify created by our student, Lindsey, and our Facebook photo gallery.
      • To learn more about the project, read our post about the launch event at the Gates Foundation in June. You can also look behind the scenes with this report from Tacoma from the StoryCorps blog, and from Lynnwood, via the YWCA's Firesteel.

What You Can Do:

People tend to get fired up when they hear stories like these, and they want to know what they can do to help Here are a few ideas: 


Contact Us

Larry Hubbell, PhD

Catherine Hinrichsen
Project Director
Phone: 206.398.4457