What Housing Means to Me

About the What Housing Means to Me Photovoice Project

The What Housing Means to Me exhibit includes photographs and recorded stories of a number of women experiencing housing precarity and/or homelessness in New Westminster. The project was facilitated by Artist-Mentor and photographer Mihailo Subotic with funding realized by the Community Poverty Reduction Committee and Douglas College. The goals of this project were to use photography and storytelling to highlight the importance of home, belonging, and community while also facilitating dialogues around affordable housing, and misconceptions and stereotypes about those living in poverty and experiencing homelessness. The resulting exhibit has been displayed in multiple locations throughout New Westminster with the aim of generating understanding, compassion, and empathy for those in the community facing serious challenges in finding adequate housing. Through the exhibit and dialogue, it is hoped that there will be greater community awareness and support regarding both the need for more housing that is affordable for everyone and the value of including those facing housing challenges in discussions about housing development in our city.

This current exhibition of photographs and digital stories is made possible through a partnership between the New Westminster Public Library and the Changing the Conversation project at Douglas College. The addition of digital stories to this particular exhibit was made possible through the process of relationship building between the Library and the residents of Mazarene Lodge. Over the course of the last year, our Community Librarian Liz Hunter has been making regular visits to Mazarene as part of the Library’s community-led team who work directly with marginalized and vulnerable populations in order be more inclusive of their needs at the library. Through frequent discussions about the many challenges these women are facing, we realized there was an opportunity for the women to be heard and seen through an exhibition in the Library space. Thus began the work to bring the current version of the exhibition to the broader community.

These stories are personal, and are gifts to us from these courageous women, each of whom helps us learn that behind the stereotypes and assumptions of those experiencing poverty and homelessness, are real lives and experiences that are impacted. Our hope through this exhibit is to allow their voices to be centered, heard and included with any future planning around housing affordability in our region.

What is Photovoice

“Photovoice is an engagement and research process by which people – usually those with limited power due to poverty, language barriers, race, class, ethnicity, gender, culture, or other circumstances – use video and/or photo images to capture aspects of their environment and experiences and share them with others. The pictures can then be used, usually with captions composed by the photographers, to bring the realities of the photographers’ lives home to the public and policy makers and to spur change.”

(Participedia.net, 07-24-2023 https://participedia.net/method/5016 )