Photo Exhibit Marks Homelessness Awareness Month

WI Staff | 11/9/2011, 10:11 p.m.

The National Center on Family Homelessness (The National Center) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently unveiled a month-long photo exhibit at HUD headquarters in the District of Columbia. The photo exhibit, "Looking into the Light," also will be featured in Boston later this month.

Organizers said the photographs are intended to highlight the stories of homeless families and children and delves into why these segments of the American population are not only sizable, but growing. The exhibit seeks to open viewers to the vision that with their participation we can put an end to this problem.

HUD Assistant Secretary Mercedes Marquez and Dr. Ellen L. Bassuk, president of The National Center, hosted the event which included a federal policy briefing on the state of family and child homelessness in this country.

Marquez said that it was important for individuals to view the exhibit because "the photos capture the vulnerability of homeless families, particularly their children."

Bassuk said the photographs truly depict "what families' homelessness looks like." And that the purpose of the event was to make people aware that "many children are largely invisible, and that in this recession the numbers have grown."

According to HUD, in 2010, nearly 170,000 American families spent at least one night in a shelter-- a 30% increase since 2007. Homeless families can be found in every state in our nation and in many communities. Homeless children are hungry, sick, scared, and fall behind in school because their lives are chaotic, the report indicates. The constant barrage of stressful and traumatic experiences has profound effects on their development and ability to learn, directly affecting their success in life.

Although the photo exhibit will be on display in the Main Hall at HUD headquarters throughout November, later this month, according to HUD spokesperson April Brown, the exhibit also will be on display in Boston at the Massachusetts State House from the Nov. 14-18.

"To commemorate the national tour of Looking Into Light and provide a one-of-a-kind way to help homeless children and families, The National Center is offering high quality digital reproductions of selected photographs from both tours, " Brown said. "Digital Silver Imaging will handle the printing and framing." Brown said the proceeds will go to the National Center to help fight homelessness.

"It is important to keep in mind that every night, parents and their children call a shelter their car, or the streets their home," she said.