The Doorway Project is a new initiative led by the University of Washington to address youth homelessness in the University District through continuous community-engaged collaboration with U District service providers. We are currently testing out the idea of a pilot community cafe and hub that engages the U District’s homeless, street-involved or marginalized youth, University of Washington students and faculty, and service providers. Our aim is to create a space where homeless youth feel welcome and have access to important tools and resources.
Youth and young adults in the U District form the foundation of our work. We seek the knowledge and guidance of young people experiencing housing instability and who live, work, or learn here in this neighborhood. The work we do is intentionally open-ended, flexible, and continually evolving in response to what we learn. Our methods include community mapping, focus groups, digital storytelling, and individual interviews. We engage in these research methods through a combination of our seasonal Pop-Up Cafes and through partnership with existing service providers in the U District.
The information we gather will help us design a multifaceted space that is unprecedented in the Pacific Northwest. Although our research is not finished, we already know that the Doorway Project is a place for learning and for sharing resources between service providers. It is a place where the UW can actively engage in the community and facilitate connections. It is a place where everyone has a seat at the table and a voice in the conversation.
The Doorway Project is part of the Homelessness Research Initiative, an Urban@UW-fostered effort focused on developing collaborative solutions for housing and homelessness. It is made possible by funding from the State of Washington.