Last week I pulled some very long days to stitch together the web presentation for an EdSource special report on student homelessness. The five-story package includes a map and audio story, and weeks of on the ground reporting and data analysis to bring urgent news on how the housing crisis in California is being felt by the most vulnerable: youth, students and the poor. It poses critical questions that aren’t asked enough: how are young people supposed to excel at school when they have no stable living situation?
To showcase this work I created a new web feature template and designed the photo spreads and layouts on the article; added a feature that connects the stories in the package so the entirety of the report doesn’t get missed, whichever article you land on; and supported the team in creating both interactive and static infographics and charts and a ground-breaking map of student homelessness in the state.
A little more about the map, which is mainly the result of weeks of work by data journalist Danny Willis (who you can read my interview with on Forwardslash.) It turns out that schools track youth homelessness, and if you map this data, it gives you a map of a housing crisis, broadly, and urban gentrification and displacement in cities. Especially sharp is the tale-of-two-Californias in SF, LA, Palo Alto: split down the middle east/west.
The student homelessness map was creating using Mapbox – which is really a fantastic platform – along with open-source GIS tools and databases and a handful of UNIX commands.
The map, as cool as it is, works even better as a part of an overall package that zooms in on parts of the state with on-the-ground reporting. This includes a section on the Bay Area and how its acute housing crunch is bearing down on young people. While overall it’s underlining an urgent problem, it also points out some people and organizations are stepping up to support these young people in the Bay Area, like Larkin Street youth services in my old neighborhood, the Tenderloin.
So far, the report has received favorable mentions and links from The New York Times and Los Angeles Times, both in their daily California newsletter, and had part of it republished in The Atlantic. It also caught the eye of Politico in their daily education alert.