As the District of Columbia’s cost of living increases and the number of homeless and financially distressed families escalates, the city’s support systems are failing to help working families find adequate, affordable housing. Indeed, since the onset of the Great Recession in 2008, the district’s homeless population has quadrupled, even while the city’s net wealth grew substantially.
By the time snowstorms paralyzed Washington in the winter of 2014, the city’s largest homeless shelter was filled to the max with 288 families, including more than 600 children. An additional 125 families filled every apartment in the city’s only other family shelter and more than 300 homeless families were placed in budget motels. Sharing a sullied plot of land with clinics for methamphetamine addiction recovery and sexually transmitted disease treatment, as well as a working jail, DC General, a once shutdown hospital turned homeless shelter, is the backdrop for a veritable tale of two cities.
Unsettled is the story of two women and their journey from life without a home to the fight to keep their dreams and hopes alive in a city that is tacitly pushing them out. While Naila Goodwin-Early desperately fights the system to put her family in permanent housing, Nkechi Feaster battles to keep the home and the small foothold she’s earned. Through their personal journeys both push the powers that be for more support for Washington, DC’s unsettled population. This is a story of living both in and on the edge of homelessness.
Jose Collazo, Matthew Johnson, Katie Le Dain, Branka Slavica, Aqiyla Thomas, Katie Thompson, Suzi Tobias
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2015 OUR CITY FESTIVAL