The “Two Sides To the Same Story” project from Heading Home aims to raise awareness surrounding the struggles of homelessness by reminding the community that not every story is as it seems.
The project exposes that there is more than one side to the complex circumstance of homelessness, requires a more organized approach to address it.
“This is an issue not to be solved by non-profits alone, or government alone. It requires the entire community,” said Dennis Plummer, CEO of Heading Home.
City statutes for panhandling, loitering, and public indecency are frequently used to target people experiencing homelessness to get them off of the streets. This is only a temporary solution to the growing issue.
Heading Home is a homeless outreach organization based on the obvious solution; housing the homeless. Heading Home works with the most vulnerable populations experiencing homelessness by focusing on getting them off the street and into housing.
“Heading Home and our partner organizations are really about, how do we streamline from street to housing?” Plummer said.
The “Two Sides” poster project works to raise awareness in the community by partnering with buildings and businesses across the city, including the University of New Mexico (UNM). Through this program, Heading Home has begun spreading their message to better engage the community in the conversation.
Gabe Gallegos, Director of Communications at the Associated Students of the University of New Mexico (ASUNM), said he was excited to be involved with the project and the organization behind it.
“Heading Home is really doing some holistic and intimate work with the homeless community in Albuquerque, so we are really proud to be a part of the ‘Two Sides to Every Story’ campaign,” Gallegos said.
As a part of their involvement, ASUNM students helped write two posters, which now hang in the Student Union Building. The posters highlight the disconnect between the public and private life of a student who is experiencing homelessness.
“What our hope is,” Plummer said, “putting these up to start conversation, so that we know as the students go through, that sparks their own storytelling and sharing with others.”
Student homelessness is largely hidden from peers and faculty and therefore is hard to measure. Heading Home’s initiative works to address the visibility factor of student homelessness.
“What’s really concerning to us, is that it is so difficult to quantify homelessness on our campus,” Gallegos said. They are seeking answers to questions like, “If a student is homeless, where do they go? What resources can they seek out?” Gallegos said.
Like the partnership with UNM, Plummer said he hopes that Heading Home can bring together all of New Mexico’s educational institutions to learn how to better recognize and help students experiencing homelessness.
“We see this as a start of a new conversation, a new dialogue, about how we can combat homelessness in our community,” Gallegos said.