UPROOTED: A Documentary About Humans Without Homes Produced by United Way of the National Capital Area

Dec 18, 2019

by United Way NCA

UPROOTED is a documentary that follows three individuals in the National Capital Area who are either currently or have previously experienced homelessness. The documentary seeks to shed light on many of the stereotypes that keep people from engaging with the issue of homelessness by creating a platform for their experiences to be shared, their voices heard, and their advocacy grounded.

Beyond the voices and experiences of those featured, the series aims to breakdown the stereotypes that surround the issues of homelessness in the National Capital Area. Whether its drug addiction, lack of affordable healthcare, disabilities, financial hardships, loneliness, abandonment, trauma, love, or family – the challenges are real and are compounded by a lack of affordable housing in our market.


Lawrence Collins, a former truck driver of 25 years watched everything in his life crumble beneath him from a harrowing addiction to crack. After his family unit fell apart, Collins took to the streets in what would become four years surfing between shelters and couches while he slowly picked up the pieces of his life. Now, having his first apartment in four years, Collins struggles to make ends meet on his low wage and fear of relapse looming all the while.

Sheila White, a six-year veteran on the streets of DC, has found her strength and her community in a local media organization authored and organized by other individuals experiencing homelessness. Having lived three years on the streets hopping from park bench to park bench, she’s now calls a local women’s shelter home. Enrolled in a journalism program at the University of the District of Columbia, White now seeks photojournalism as an outlet to advocate for the many different faces and voices experiencing homelessness in the National Capital Area.

Kevin Thomas, a four-year survivor on the Columbia Heights metro station, now seeks to make his passion for special education and early childhood development a career path. Five months clean for substance abuse, Thomas as rededicated his life to pursue his education and his faith in the Mormon church. Thomas was part of a nonprofit program that trained him in gardening; teaching him how to make a schedule, and hold himself accountable for his own success. Though he’s currently experiencing homelessness, Thomas has enrolled at the University of the District of Columbia.

UPROOTED is part of an ongoing advocacy campaign led by United Way of the National Capital Area in conjunction with its partner nonprofits. The documentary is designed to create platforms for people experiencing homelessness to share their voice. The objective is to build awareness in the community around some of the issues surrounding homelessness and to shed light on the disparities in our community that keep people in the cycle of homelessness or at risk of experiencing homelessness.

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