A recent grant to Rutgers University will fund a podcast and other programming aimed at sharing the stories of New Jersey families and individuals who have experienced housing insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The work is a continuation of The Shelter Project, a collaboration between Rutgers University–New Brunswick, New Brunswick Theological Seminary, and coLAB Arts.
The project “will include folks who usually are just talked about by humanities scholars and make them part of the actual production of knowledge,” says Colin Jager, a professor of English at the School of Arts and Sciences and director of Rutgers’ Center for Cultural Analysis.
Individuals and families in central New Jersey who faced homelessness because of the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to share their experiences and stories in a podcast and other venues, thanks to a $50,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation.
The grant will support The Shelter Project, a collaborative effort by Rutgers University–New Brunswick, New Brunswick Theological Seminary, and coLAB Arts, a New Brunswick-based organization that connects artists with community partners.
The project will comprise a six-episode podcast, several virtual or live events in spring 2021, and new curricula at Rutgers and the seminary. The collaboration grew out of a spring 2020 grant of $150,000 from the Luce Foundation that provided direct financial assistance to more than 120 people in 32 households, helping them secure housing. The grant also assisted some of the individuals with obtaining legal and social services related to domestic violence, early release from prison, and immigration.
Going through the process of helping community members enabled Rutgers and the seminary, with assistance from the Affordable Housing Corporation of the Reformed Church of Highland Park, New Jersey, to identify people in central New Jersey threatened with homelessness because of the pandemic.
The collaborators realized that others in the community could benefit from hearing the stories of people helped by the grant. The Luce Foundation agreed and provided the second grant to fund the recording and dissemination of those stories by students at Rutgers and the seminary, assisted by the Rutgers Oral History Archives.