GRANT 190:

Y2Y: A Bold Experiment

04/25/2016

Young adults uniting to end homelessness.

Emmy and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Laurie Kahn is drawn to compelling character-driven stories. After a career at NPR, Frontline, Eyes on the Prize, and American Experience, she started her own production company, Blueberry Hill, and has been capturing the attention of millions of viewers worldwide with intriguing stories. Her next feature documentary in production, Y2Y: A Bold Experiment, will tackle the issue of young adult homelessness right in her home state of Massachusetts, and beyond.

Three years ago, college sophomores Sam Greenberg and Sarah Rosenkrantz were working 30+ hours per week in the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter when they realized there was a gaping hole in the system: a lack of safe homeless shelter space for young adults. While all homeless populations are vulnerable, young adults are especially at risk. Service providers report that many unaccompanied homeless youth feel safer sleeping outside or in abandoned buildings than in adult shelters where they are at high risk for exploitation, exposure to harmful substances and diseases, robbery, and physical injury.

Against all odds, Sam and Sarah created an ambitious new enterprise: Y2Y (Young Adults Uniting to End Homelessness) and built a well-organized, all-student volunteer staff, who are ready to embark on a bold experiment that just began with the creation of a 22-bed homeless shelter in Harvard Square for young adults ages 18-24. Over the next three years, Y2Y’s efforts in Cambridge will be replicated by a university in another city where a large number of homeless youth are at risk. And then a third young-adult homeless shelter will be launched by a third university, all with the help of Y2Y.

Laurie and her team have exclusive access to document Y2Y’s obstacles, hard choices, and triumphs as homeless young adults and idealistic university students work together to create a safe environment for an extremely vulnerable population, and attempt to replicate their efforts in other cities where hundreds of young people are currently sleeping on the streets. The film will be a tool for change, potentially inspiring dozens of universities in the US and abroad to create and operate peer-to-peer homeless shelters for young adults. The team will be using our grant to shoot additional footage inside Y2Y’s shelter in Harvard square, which will be turned into the first sizzle reel for the film.

Visit Blueberry Hill Productions on Facebook, and learn more about Y2Y Harvard Square here.