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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMB Shows Alumnus Documentary, “No Place Like Home”

“No Place Like Home” is a documentary by Neil Macinnes-Barker, a 2011 University of Massachusetts Boston alumnus, about youth homelessness in Massachusetts. Passing by Harvard Square, Bostonians usually see a group of young people begging or just sleeping outside. This can be seen on many streets of Boston and all around the United States. According to Safe Horizon, the largest nonprofit victim service agency, around 1.7 million young people are homeless every year.

The film aims to shed light on issues that cause young people loss of a safe shelter and shows their daily experiences as homeless young adults. The film has been screened at the Massachusetts State House, Legislature, learning centers, and different film festivals including the Chennai International Queer Film Festival in India.

At the UMass Boston screening of the film, there were a little more than a dozen attendees. However, all of them either had questions or comments for the panel. The two hour discussion and Q&A after the screening was lead by the director of the film, Macinnes-Barker. The panel included two of the staff members of Youth on Fire, which is a drop-in center established in 2000 to serve homeless youth ages 14–24, and three former members of the center. While the staff explained their mission of providing help to the homeless youth and assistance in getting housing, the members each shared their stories of how they became homeless. “Last winter, when I was homeless for a year, I lived in a tent with my girlfriend. We figured that it was the safest way, because the streets aren’t safe and we’re both two young women,” shared one of the members on the panel. She continued explaining that during her stay with her girlfriend in that tent, both of them got up at six in the morning, making their way to their full time jobs. Most of the members on the panel shared the experience of growing up in abusive, violent households. “The reason I ended up in that situation is because my mom passed away when I was 18, and I was living with my grandparents. They’re horrible alcoholics. They’re wonderful people, but when they drink, they get very violent towards me and  towards each other.” This story continues with the grandparents becoming more violent after the death of their only daughter, and therefore, becoming more dangerous to themselves and their surroundings. The panel speaker thought it was safer to live on the streets for a while than stay with them. The story’s happy ending comes with the involvement of Youth on Fire: “They helped me get an apartment; they’re extremely nice people and they do wonderful work.”

One of the goals of the film is to share these stories with everyone in order to dismantle the negative stigma associated with the homelessness of youth. In addition, the film aims to educate people on this issue in hopes that they will help pass a proposed House bill (H.135), that can help to provide shelter for more homeless youth, including the 40% who are kicked out of their homes after coming out publicly as members of the LGBTQ community.