Welcome to the Doorway Project blog! As a part of the new phase of the project, which we are calling Doorway Project 2.0, we will be providing quarterly blog updates on how the project is going, what we are currently working on, and what our goals are for the upcoming next few months. With that, let’s get started on catching you up on what’s been happening with us!
As you may know, this last Summer saw the leadership handoff of the Doorway Project from Dr. Josephine Ensign to Dr. Seema Clifasefi, who is now the current Primary Investigator (PI) of the Doorway Project. The first two years of the project that were overseen by Dr. Ensign were nothing short of a success, as we pushed forward the conversation around youth and young adult homelessness both in the University District community as well as on the University of Washington campus. Instead of being an issue that is taken as something we should accept, Dr. Ensign led the way in rewriting the public narrative that youth and young adult homelessness is not only something that is unfortunate, but that it is something we can tackle with new and innovative solutions that center the voices of those most impacted, the youth and young adults.
Through five community focus groups, seven pop-up cafes, two community town halls and over twenty-five individual interviews, we learned what it is that members from all walks of the U District community see as important in addressing this topic. In addition, we’ve worked to bridge the communication gap between the dedicated youth and young adults service providers and those who are working to address homelessness through their research on the UW campus. By building these relationships over the past two years, we’ve formed a foundation to launch into the next phase: Doorway Project 2.0
As a part of Doorway Project 2.0, we are committed to being as transparent about the project as we can be. We believe that the more the community sees and understands the work we are doing each day, the more they will be engaged with the important work we are dedicated to. One part of this can be found here, Doorway Project 2.0: Our Plan, where we lay out our timeline for the project and the goals we are planning to reach over the next year. Another part of our commitment to transparency is a blog post like this one. Our goal is to provide regular, consistent updates at the beginning of each academic quarter. So, still wondering what we’ve been doing? Let’s jump in.
Since July 1, 2019, Doorway Project 2.0 has started by taking a step back to try and look at everything with fresh eyes. With the project newly being under the helm of Dr. Clifasefi, this has been a natural process as she meets with our partners on UW’s campus, in the University District, and across King County. Dr. Clifasefi codirects the Harm Reduction Research and Treatment (HaRRT) Center at UW-Harborview with her colleague Dr. Susan Collins. Clifasefi and Collins work collaboratively with substance users and providers serving members of this community to identify ways to reduce substance related harm and improve quality of life both on the individual level, but also more broadly for the community. Clifasefi will bring her community based and collaborative approach that she has been applying at the HaRRT Center to the Doorway project, working hard to center and elevate the voices of the youth and young adults that we are aiming to serve through this project.
Qualitative Analysis of Interviews
Each week since mid-August, Noah, Courtney and members of the HaRRT Center, Emily and Taurmini, under the direction of Dr. Clifasefi, have begun to develop a code book for the individual interviews that the Doorway Project conducted over its first two years. While what we are doing is officially called qualitative analysis, it essentially boils down to finding common themes that come up throughout the conversations and grouping them together. Some of the most common themes may not be surprising if you are someone who has worked with youth and young adults in any walk of life. Themes such as ‘Belonging’, ‘Feeling Understood’, ‘Expressing Self-Agency’ are universal adolescent growth points. And there are of course some themes that are more specific to their experience with being homeless or housing unstable such as ‘Navigating Social Services’, ‘Feeling Stigmatized’, and ‘Giving Back’.
Our goal with developing this ‘codebook’ of common themes is to present our summarized findings to the Doorway Community Advisory Board (CAB) which will be made up of youth and young adults with lived experience of homelessness, youth service providers serving this community, and UW and YouthCare representatives who are co-leading the project. This will help inform the CAB as they develop the Doorway Project model, and essentially what the Doorway Project will become.
Focus Groups & Assembling the Community Advisory Board
In addition, the Doorway Project Leadership Team (‘Who We Are’) has been meeting weekly to discuss the current work and future aims of the Doorway Project. With this consistent contact and small group feel, we are working closely, aligning our project goals, and all pulling in the same direction. During the month of September, our work mainly focused on recruiting members for the Community Advisory Board, as well as reigniting relationships with youth and young adult service providers in the University District and King County at large. A main aspect of this work has been listening. We’ve begun to conduct focus groups with service providers to ask them about what is working for them and what could change to better unify the complex systems that serve youth and young adults. This valuable information will, again, help to better inform the CAB in the coming months. As we have brought so many different perspectives to the table, the broad possibilities for what Doorway Project could be has been inspiring.
In the next month, we plan to wrap up our focus groups with service providers in anticipation of our first Community Advisory Board on November 1st. Over the course of the following months, the CAB will work together to establish trust, build relationships amongst each other and begin to develop a shared vision of how to better serve youth and young adults experiencing homelessness. We are looking forward to updating you come the new year, and until then, we will continue to plug away at our work. Thank you for your support of the Doorway Project, and please feel free to reach out through our website DoorwayProject.org
[Cover photo credit: UW Relational Poverty Network]