Putting a face on the problem of homeless families in America is a daunting task, which is why The Seattle Times chose an unprecedented reporting approach for “Invisible Families: The Homeless You Don’t See.” The project, which appears online Monday, is a collaboration combining The Times’ deep storytelling resources with the on-the-ground expertise of journalists working at its local partner websites throughout the region.
After months of research and reporting, the result is a multifaceted body of work with a combined total of 10 stories, six videos and over 75 photographs. The full multi-media package, including the work of our partner sites, appears on seattletimes.com and is available through participating community sites, including:
West Seattle Blog http://westseattleblog.com/blog/
Beacon Hill Blog http://beaconhill.seattle.wa.us
My Edmonds News http://myedmondsnews.com/
Seattle Local Health Guide http://localhealthguideonline.com/
Rainier Valley Post http://www.rainiervalleypost.com/
Mercer Island – Surrounded By Water http://mercerislandblogger.wordpress.com/
Aurora | Seattle http://www.auroraseattle.com/
The Seattle Times also launched a three-day series Sunday featuring the key stories in the package, as well as a photo essay.
“The goal of the project, which was financed in part with a fellowship from Seattle University, was to paint a picture of family homelessness on a broad canvas by partnering with community sites that provide snapshots of individuals’ lives as they sought food, shelter, jobs and other needs in neighborhoods throughout Seattle,” said Kathy Best, Seattle Times Managing Editor for Digital News and Innovation.
“All of these elements in isolation would not have been told as deeply or as well,” said Best. “Working together, however, The Times and its news partners were able to unearth city-wide themes; share resources, story ideas and news tips; complement and build upon each others’ work; and, in the end, produce something greater than the sum of its parts.”
The neighborhood-based partner stories include a first-person narrative from a young pastor who reaches out to homeless immigrants living in nearby motels. A medical blogger brings his expertise to this issue, exploring how health problems further complicate life for an already-vulnerable population. And yet another hyperlocal site profiles an organization that assists recent inmates from prison, newly homeless with nowhere to turn. My Edmonds News, meanwhile, showcases the efforts of city and church leaders to change local fire code regulations so that churches could provide temporary cold weather shelter for homeless people in Edmonds.
Best noted, “By tapping into the resources of our neighborhood partners and by leveraging the power and expertise of a metro newsroom, the culminating project is a richer, more textured, more intimate view of what it means to be a homeless family, bringing what would have been an abstract policy debate home.”