'Arizona Storytellers Presents: Finding Home' seeks solutions for affordable housing challenges

·3 min read

The second in a series of storytelling events examining affordable housing through first-person experiences of local residents focuses on metro Phoenix this month.

"Arizona Storytellers Presents: Finding Home" showcases tales from the front lines of the Valley's housing crisis. Potential short- and long-term solutions will also be explored. Additionally, nonprofits working to help are invited to participate in a volunteer fair aimed at boosting community engagement in nonprofit solutions.

“This economy has left too many people behind, forced them to live far from work or, worse, left them unable to pay for a roof over their head," said Greg Burton, executive editor of The Republic and azcentral.com. “Hopefully, coming together, we can find a way out of this crisis. We can identify solutions that help people and heal our community.”

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The housing-themed storytelling series kicked off in Yuma earlier this year. The metro Phoenix event is the second and will be followed by a third in Flagstaff, which is also experiencing spiraling rent and home costs, housing shortages and growing homeless populations.

The free event on Wednesday, Aug. 31, at the Tempe Center for the Arts is sponsored by The Republic, Arizona Community Foundation, ASU's Morrison Institute of Public Policy, the city of Tempe and KJZZ, Phoenix's NPR affiliate.

Coverage of housing insecurity on azcentral.com and in The Republic is supported by a grant from the Community Foundation. The Morrison Institute receives Community Foundation support for its research into housing issues in seven Arizona counties.

“Housing insecurity is one of Arizona’s most pressing issues and we need to create spaces where we can talk about how to ease this crisis,” said Andrea Whitsett, Morrison Institute director.

At "Finding Home," the theme will be interpreted in different ways by tellers based on their experiences. Storytellers include:

  • Christy Moore, founder and owner of Phoenix's Social Spin Laundromat.

  • Richard Southee, program manager at Central Arizona Shelter Services.

  • James Lawrence, whose family achieved housing through Native American Connections.

Others who will be part of the evening include Joan Serviss, executive director of Arizona Housing Coalition; Rashad Shabazz, ASU associate professor; and Sarah Shambrook of Dominium, builder of affordable housing.

This year, Republic-sponsored Arizona Storytellers shows occur every other month at the Tempe arts center. More than 400 people attended an Aug. 10 Vacations & Adventures-themed show. Besides the special housing event, upcoming shows will be Oct. 12 (Food & Family) and Dec. 14 (Holidays). More details at storytellersproject.com.

Since Arizona Storytellers events began 11 years ago, more than 1,000 Arizonans have had the opportunity to tell authentic, first-person stories on stages in Phoenix, Tucson, Grand Canyon National Park and Yuma. Tellers are coached in partnership with South Mountain Community College's Storytelling Institute. The storytelling franchise has also been exported to Austin, Texas; Des Moines, Iowa; Nashville, Tenn., and 11 other cities in the USA Today Network.

Arizona Storytellers Presents: Finding Home

What it is: An evening of storytelling, conversation and community-building around housing challenges in Greater Phoenix. The second of three similar events in Arizona this year.

When: Wednesday, Aug. 31. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., show at 7 p.m.

Where: Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 W. Rio Salado Pkwy.

Tickets: Free, but limited. Available at the Tempe Center for the Arts box office, tempecenterforthearts.com.

Questions: Stacy Sullivan, ssullivan@azcentral.com, 602-444-8749.

Reach the reporter at Catherine.Reagor@arizonarepublic.com or 602-444-8040. Follow her on Twitter @Catherinereagor.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Affordable housing challenges showcased in storytelling event