Through Their Eyes: Examining Youth Homelessness with Photovoice

The generous support of the Aetna Foundation for the “Addressing the Health and Health-Related Social Needs of Homeless Youth” project gave the Weitzman Institute the unique opportunity to collaborate with young people who have experienced housing insecurity to examine the web of factors contributing to homelessness in New Britain, Connecticut, through the art forms of photography and storytelling. The project focused primarily on youth of color and LGBTQ+ youth experiencing housing insecurity. 

Using a technique known as photovoice, participants were trained in photography and provided cameras to capture visual representations of their everyday lives. Their pictures and stories bring their concerns to life, and urge community leaders and policymakers to take action.

The Weitzman Photovoice team partnered with 25 local partner organizations and government agencies to identify the health-related challenges causing youth homelessness and developed materials to increase policymakers’, practitioners’, and researchers’ knowledge of best practices to improve health outcomes among this population.

The materials from this project are below.

Photo Narratives

Fourteen project participants recounted their experiences of homelessness or housing insecurity in New Britain, Connecticut, using photography and text.

Click each image to enlarge the gallery.

Policy Brief

 This policy brief discusses the process and outcomes of the “Addressing the Health and Health-Related Social Needs of Homeless Youth” project, which examined the web of individual, familial, communal, and systemic factors contributing to youth homelessness in New Britain, Connecticut.


In this podcast, five Photovoice participants from the community who have experienced homelessness or housing insecurity discuss their experiences to help us understand the factors contributing to youth homelessness in New Britain, Connecticut.

(0:00-2:20) Co-hosts Zeba Kokan and Melanie Gonzalez introduce the Weitzman Photovoice Multimedia Advocacy project and podcast.

(2:20-6:38) Youth participant Wolf shares his song, “Lonely Tent,” and reflects on his experiences of homelessness.

(6:42-14:00) Youth participant Jocelyne shares her poem, “Youth Housing and Schools,” and discusses her thoughts about how the high school curriculum needs to change.

(14:35-21:24) Youth participant Kaelys reflects on her experiences as a college student experiencing housing insecurity and shares recommendations for how colleges can better support students, which informed her essay, “Journey from College to Homelessness.” 

(21:30-33:55) Youth participant Alibeth explains how her housing insecurity experience taught her about the importance of self-sustainability and the art of selling.

(33:56-38:24) Youth participant Marina reads her poem, “The Great Resignation,” and shares her thoughts about workforce reform. 

Multimedia Materials


We are thrilled to announce that our paper, “Understanding the Health and Health-Related Social Needs of Youth Experiencing Homelessness: A Photovoice Study”, was recently published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The study discussed in this paper focuses on obtaining an understanding of the health and health-related social needs of youths experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using photovoice, a community-based participatory research method, 14 youths between the ages of 14 and 24 who lived, worked, or attended school in New Britain, Connecticut and had at least one experience of homelessness or housing insecurity, worked with the research team to conduct a needs assessment regarding youth homelessness. 

Click here to read the publication


In The News

Meet Our Project Team

April Joy Damian

Melanie Gonzalez Headshot

Melanie Gonzalez

Ryan Curran Headshot

Ryan Curran


Brandon Azevedo

Zeba Kokan Headshot

Zeba Kokan

For more information about this project, contact April Joy Damian, PhD, MSc, CHPM, PMP, Vice President
and Director of the Weitzman Institute.