Challenging Our Perception of Those who are Evicted, Foreclosed, Homeless
KCPT ‘s Weathering the Financial Storm, a Facing the Mortgage Crisis initiative, questioned the view that a certain kind of person is vulnerable to foreclosure and homelessness. “Most people think this is something that happens to somebody else, not me or among people who happen to look a certain way,” explained Nick Haines, executive producer of news and public affairs programming at KCPT. To unmask this stereotype and educate the community, KCPT created a multi-platform effort that relied on a live call-in show and first-person footage taken with Flip cameras.
Research revealed that thousands of families in Greater Kansas City had been evicted during the last 24 months. KCPT decided to share the perspectives of these homeless parents and children by providing them with Flip cameras to chronicle their experiences. The station discovered that finding people willing to share their stories was a challenge. Many families were too embarrassed to participate. For weeks, the station searched for volunteers and pitched the idea to local organizations in hopes that they’d help. Eventually their persistence paid off and a social service network agreed to approach potential families on the station’s behalf.
Once the door was opened by a community partner, the station was able to provide the families with cameras and training. The intimate footage revealed a surprisingly relatable face for the foreclosure crisis and gave voice to rarely heard perspectives.
KCPT combined the Flip cam footage into a televised broadcast called Evicted, Foreclosed, Homeless. The broadcast aired alongside a live discussion with community experts. Throughout the broadcast, viewers called to talk with a phone bank of trained counselors. That night, the phone bank received 373 calls and the program was the lead story on the local NBC affiliate’s 10:00 p.m. news.
Weathering the Financial Storm helped the Kansas City community better understand the homeless issue; and it changed people’s perception of the station itself. The initiative “put in peoples’ minds that KCPT is the place for help,” explained Haines. Since then, two schools and a community college have requested the segments for classes on social issues. KCPT has also received requests from community partners to create a follow-up special on the payday loan industry.