We’re honored to be hosting another exhibit that lifts up the voices and perspectives of those experiencing homelessness here in our city. The "Everyone Deserves a Home" project is currently on display in our second floor gallery. This exhibit features portraits of formerly homeless individuals paired with text of participants’ personal stories. The subjects photographed have experienced homelessness and significant health issues prior to finding their current home in supportive housing communities operated by an organization called Delivering Innovation in Supportive Housing (DISH). Their origin stories here are laced with challenging themes – struggles with trauma, neglect, substance abuse and the corrosive effects of poverty and racism.
Lauren Hall founded DISH and is a true change maker in our city. Our eighth graders recently spent time with her engaged in service learning in the Tenderloin as part of their study on homelessness. I also had a chance to connect with Lauren to learn more about her work, this collection, and what we can do to make an impact.
Please explain who are you and what do you do.
My name is Lauren Hall and I am one of the leaders of an organization that believes “everyone deserves a home.” I started DISH with my colleague Doug Gary in September 2006. We wanted to create a property management organization that welcomed people home who were experiencing homelessness with a focus on health, well-being and community.
Why do you think this exhibit is important?
I recently had the opportunity to spend some time with students from SFFS at one of our buildings. We were sharing some of our takeaways from the afternoon and one young man talked about how his experience interacting with one of our tenants had given him greater insight into how he thought about people experiencing homelessness. His compassion and clarity was so striking to me. This exhibit gives people the opportunity to connect and consider the impacts of homelessness, and the importance of home. We want people to think about the way we have criminalized poverty, capitalized on racism and created a separate class of people in our country who deserve our respect and compassion.
What do you want people to take away from this?
We want to offer alternate views into the lives of people who have experienced homelessness by providing their image as they want to portray themselves, and a brief part of their story. We hope ultimately that it fosters understanding, as well as the desire for action to address the systemic causes of homelessness such as our affordable housing, criminal justice and foster care systems. In this exhibit, we hope people see that homelessness is an experience that can happen to anyone and has more to do with communities impacted by poverty and trauma than individual challenges. Everyone deserves a home and it is on all of us to make that happen.
How can people get more involved in making an impact?
Vote and hold your representatives accountable! Support affordable and supportive housing in your neighborhood and on your ballot! Show up at community hearings for supportive housing and navigation centers and say YES IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD! Volunteer your skills or donate your funds to organizations working on solutions to homelessness so they can do more to address this crisis. Be kind to your neighbors who are forced to live on the street.
In addition to the photos, there is also a board nearby with the sentence starter, “Home is….” All are encouraged to share their thoughts and perspectives. You are also invited to a meet-and-greet with Lauren Hall on April 10 at 4:30pm. All are welcome! To learn more about DISH and how you can get involved, please visit dishsf.org.