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Filling empty homes

filling empty homes
(Photos by Erin Blewett, Graphic by Jillian Bauer-Reese)

How hard is it to take an abandoned building and turn it into a safe living space for people experiencing homelessness?

Last August, we hit the streets of Kensington to learn more about what you — residents and members of the community — might want or need from a neighborhood newsroom. Since then, we’ve heard from hundreds of you via our pop-up newsroom stations, suggestion boxes, text messages, online surveys, emails, and more.

What you told us was not surprising: there’s a lot more to the neighborhood than what usually makes the news. Kensington needs a voice, and we’re here to elevate your words.

With your feedback, we built the website and newsroom — a pop-up that meets you where you are throughout the week to collect story ideas and guide you through sharing your voice — that you see in front of you today. It’s a rough draft of what’s to come and will continue to evolve with and for this community.

Kensington Voice is far from perfect. Only one of us (currently) is a native Spanish speaker, none of us have ever built a bilingual website, we have no print edition or permanent location (yet), and we don’t have the resources to publish more than once a month. But we hope that as this project grows, so will we.

For our first issue, we set out to answer the question: How hard is it to convert abandoned buildings into housing for people experiencing homelessness? This was derived from questions asked by more than one of you at our pop-up stations this fall.

We quickly realized that the many intersections of this question — housing, homelessness, gentrification, — were too complicated to answer in one issue. However, we did our best to explore your question, and we plan to revisit this and other issues you suggest going forward.

That’s our commitment to you: We are here, at your service, to help you answer questions you have about your community, facilitate dialogue with your neighbors, and most importantly, give Kensington the platform and voice it deserves.

Please contact us with suggestions for our monthly issues, and most importantly, never hesitate to tell us how we can do better. After all, we’re here to work for and with you.