Spring 2013: Home and Housing

Trenton is a small city with big dreams. In the last century, industry and immigration made it a vibrant and promising home. But the collapse of manufacturing and decades of struggle have tarnished Trenton’s prospects. Today, policymakers, community leaders, and concerned citizens in New Jersey’s capital are searching for new ways to sustain lives, build community, and spark opportunity. Trentonians themselves bring energy, insight and heart to the task, grappling every day with urban problems that have no easy solutions. They make homes in a city many say is unfixable.

 

Documentary film adds a different voice to the public discussion of these issues.  The student film projects for the Spring semester of 2013 focused on home, housing and urban development in Trenton. Students were introduced to facets of the topic through the class’s institutional partners.  In the field, they collaborated in small teams to find stories, interview subjects and shoot observational footage.  (We’ve included the full content of their interviews on this site.) 

 

Ultimately, each student’s experience found voice in a short film.  Together these micro-documentaries begin to form a mosaic portrait of the city and the issues it faces.  The students’ work is not only a study of this complex topic but also an exploration of the power – and challenges – of the documentary form.

HAS EVERYONE ABANDONED TRENTON?
Directed by Kelly Timmes 2013, 4:35

Den Keenan takes us on a driving tour of Trenton, addressing the issue of abandoned properties from his perspective as both a resident and retired fire chief.

TURNING AROUND TRENTON'S PROBLEM PROPERTIES
Directed by Doug Greco 2013, 4:35

Key players in the city of Trenton seek solutions to the problem of abandoned properties.

REFUGEE, REFUGEE
Directed by Azza Cohen 2013, 5:21

This micro-documentary profiles Eugenia Mapendo’s experience as a refugee from Rwanda. Following her routine grocery shopping and cooking, the film captures expectations for life in the United States and her search for happiness for her children.

TRANSITIONS
Directed by Annie Prasad 2013, 4:42

This piece tells the story of a father, once incarcerated, looking to provide for his daughters and for a second chance.

WHAT DOES HOME MEAN TO YOU?
Directed by Joseph Sung 2013, 5:09

This piece follows the narrative of a family’s journey from homelessness to finding a home with help from Mercer County Board of Social Services. It presents an issue that is quite common among the homeless population—mental illness—and one family’s process of addressing the issue. The film looks at the important role home plays in one’s physical and emotional health and sense of identity.

A HOUSE, A HOME
Directed by Sean Andrew Chen 2013, 5:27

Is there a difference between housing and between home? For the former residents of the Charles J. Miller Homes in Trenton, the name spoke for itself. But will the Miller Homes’ new incarnation as Rush Crossing be a home as well?

IS PUBLIC HOUSING A LESSER HOME?
Directed by Andrea Chu 2013, 5:21

Through the journey of the demolished Miller Homes to the up-and-coming Rush Crossing, this film uncovers what it takes to create a “home” and how these ideas can help to ensure the sustainability of public housing.

THE LEGACY OF THE MILLER HOME
Directed by Roman Wilson 2013, 6:43

This piece explores what the legacy of the Miller Homes is for former residents. Amidst intense stigmatization, the former residents have a different story to tell.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO "SEE" THE CHRONICALLY HOMELESS?
Directed by Marina Kaneko 2013, 6:46

Too often, the chronically homeless go unnoticed, actively ignored, or stigmatized.  Trenton’s Homeless Outreach Project coordinator Dana Lee and Transitional Housing client Clinton Geddis show us different sides of the problem and their hopes for outreach.

IS TRENTON ABANDONED? ARE THE HOMELESS ABANDONED?
Directed by Jessica Mulligan 2013, 4:14

Through the journey of the demolished Miller Homes to the up-and-coming Rush Crossing, this film uncovers what it takes to create a “home” and how these ideas can help to ensure the sustainability of public housing.

WHAT GOES INTO THE INCREDIBLE SUCCESS OF THE SUPPORTIVE HOUSING PROGRAM?
Directed by Brian Perlmutter 2013, 4:20

This short follows the team of social workers that comprise Supportive Housing, as they work to house Trenton’s homeless population.

© 2019 The Trustees of Princeton University, Last modified: January 2019
If you have comments or concerns about any of the material used by our student filmmakers, please contact acarson[at]princeton.edu.