Month: May 2018


Educational Program of the Month
Helping Houselessness

School: University of California, San Diego Region: PACURH
Person in charge: Natalie Davoodi Nominator: Natalie Davoodi

Target Population: 100 Time Needed to Organize: 5 weeks
Number of People in Attendance: 96 Date(s) of Program: 5/16/18
Number of People Needed to Organize: 6 Cost of Program: 1200
On-Campus Population: 10700 Chapter Size: 47

Origin of Program:

The Resident Assistants (RAs) for Revelle College, one of the seven residential areas at the University of California, San Diego, are required to plan a variety of Social Justice Programs throughout the school year. The objective of these programs is always to raise awareness of the selected topic that is affecting society by enabling residents to take part in a multitude of engaging activities.

The RAs on the fourth, fifth, and sixth floors of Argo Hall, a first year residence hall in Revelle, decided to choose Houselessness for their topic. When brainstorming for ideas, the group decided to focus on a topic less controversial. This was to try to reach those from all political views, instilling a desire in all who attended, regardless of their own views, to make a difference and recognize the severity of the issue.

The RAs thought that this topic was especially important to raise awareness of because San Diego has one of the highest Houseless populations in the nation. Living in our campus bubble, many might not realize that this is impacting people in such close proximity to campus, which was one of the driving factors that led the RAs to choose this topic.

Word Count: 200

Please give a short description of the program:

Residents partook in a silent activity to recognize common misconceptions associated with Houselessness. There were mason jars with different misconceptions such as, "All houseless individuals are lazy." Residents walked around, placing a pebble into the jars with misconceptions that they had heard. Afterwards, a discussion took place facilitated by one of the RAs.

Then, each group member received a scenario card. The cards all had a different identity with a first name, age, hometown, description of their situation and why they are houseless, access to health insurance, and which shelters they would not be able to access.

After this activity, residents went to an interactive map activity. The RAs asked all of the residents to mark where they were from in their scenario card on a laminated United States map. They asked the group why they thought those particular states were chosen for the scenario cards. They told the group statistics on the whole country, many demographics, and types of houselessness. They highlighted the prevalence of houselessness in San Diego, which has the fourth largest houseless population in America.

The group headed to an outdoor courtyard for an engaging shelter activity. There were five pre-made shelters: a blanket over cardboard, a sleeping bag, two shopping carts with tarps draped over them, a tent, and a couch. The tent represented having access to protection from the element, while the couch represented having some type of physical building for a shelter. Residents were told to pay particular attention to the shelter section of the scenario card. This section had directions as to which shelters they could not access. Then, the RAs facilitated a "race", having the group members run to pick a shelter. Many had to move because their character either couldn't access that shelter or it already had two people occupying it. This highlighted the difficulty of accessing the more desirable shelters as a houseless individual. The group sat for a few seconds in silence in their shelter and the RAs asked discussion questions like, how they would feel if someone saw them in this shelter and how this shelter compared their current living situation (whether that was a single, double, or triple). Then, they went to a debrief of the program.

Throughout the program, residents got raffle tickets for participation which they could use at the end to enter to win prizes. They also received Nothing Bundt Cakes and boba.

Word Count: 400

Goals of the program:

The objective of this program was to raise residents' awareness of the topic of houselessness, especially due to its prevalence in San Diego. As a social justice program, we wanted to provide information on a topic that many individuals might not know about in much depth.

One of our main objectives was to clear up some of the misconceptions commonly associated with houseless individuals, which was especially done by the first activity and the debrief. We also sought to provide information on the term houseless versus homeless, which was accomplished in the debrief through some really great and impactful discussion.

We hoped to provide residents with a safe space to learn and ask questions about our topic, and with the significant number of residents who contributed to those discussions and asked those questions, that goal was definitely satisfied. We also hoped to increase residents' comfort with having more serious discussions where they could share their own inputs, especially in a group setting.

We wanted residents to know that houselessness is so prevalent not only in the whole country but especially in San Diego, to be made aware of the common misconceptions, and to learn about the types of shelters.

Word Count: 200

Positive and lasting effects of the program:

Residents expressed that the experience was eye-opening for them. Many residents said they realized how much they take basic amenities for granted and felt grateful for their living situation on campus, even if it was a triple.

Many discussed that misconceptions were pressed on them throughout a majority of their life and that this program really helped them to see houseless individuals in a new light.

Residents also left with knowledge of the newer term houseless. This term emphasizes that even if one doesn't have a physical house, it doesn't mean that they don't have a home; the term home has a much deeper meaning.

Many residents expressed a desire to do more research and find a way to help, especially because many didn't realize the issue's severity. Jane, a second-year resident, said "she was shocked when people were reading their cards to hear how different everyone's situation was. It helped her realize that houselessness is a more complex issue and not just people being lazy."

This program enabled residents to learn about such a prevalent issue whiled increasing confidence in discussions of more serious topics. This program was also beneficial because all of the activities were engaging and hands-on.

Word Count: 200

Short evaluation of the program:

This event was definitely a success! The set-up and clean-up for the event went very smoothly, with both being completed well ahead of the expected finish time. The group of people that planned this program all contributed extensively. The fact that all of the activities were so interactive really made the program much more enjoyable and impactful for those who participated in it.

Although we only had 5 weeks to plan the program, we planned very efficiently and utilized our time wisely, ensuring that we accounted for everything that had to be covered and making a very detailed logistical plan that was followed nearly perfectly on program day. The timing of this event in the late evening also seemed to be very desirable to residents.

We color coated the scenario cards by character which was very helpful in passing them out to ensure that every person had a different scenario card. Having the cakes, boba, and raffle prizes also helped residents both attend and contribute throughout the entirety event.

The main thing that could have been changed would definitely be having the program on a week where less residents have midterms and buying a few less cakes.

Word Count: 198

How could this program be adapted to other campuses?

As highlighted by our program, houselessness is a huge issue not only in San Diego, but also throughout the whole country and all over the world. It would be interesting for other schools to put their own spin on the program, highlighting the severity of houselessness in their own community and that of the rest of the nation.

For our program, we did not talk much about houseless individuals facing severe weather due to the fact that San Diego has pretty enjoyable weather year-round. Other campuses could try to address this topic based on where their school is located. Tying this program into the location of your campus is crucial for increasing impact.

In addition, it will be very important for other campuses to continually incorporate engaging activities throughout. While they can change the activities as they please, keeping them interactive will be essential for residents to take the lessons with them for a long time.

Lastly, it would be helpful for other campuses to put more time than the five weeks we had into planning for this program. This will allow for greater publicity and more creative ideas, thus resulting in a more beneficial and successful program overall.

Word Count: 200

Date of entry into database: 2018-06-07 16:38:32

NRHH Database Home