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Every year Hawaiʻi’s houseless crisis continues to grow. To better understand its root causes, and how close some people might be to actually living on the street, Brooke Fisher, an undergraduate student in the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Department of Family and Consumer Sciences’ Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS), produced Bridging the Gap. The documentary investigates how to help prevent the deeply rooted issue.

“This project helped me understand the importance of Human Development and Family Studies to support our families and children as a form of preventative work,” said Fisher, who also works in mental health and addiction services. “Society cannot function effectively and efficiently when such a large percentage of the population is either experiencing homelessness or facing multiple risk factors that lead to this status, such as inadequate wages and the high cost of living.”

Her hope is viewers will gain a better understanding of this problem to pave a path that will lead to more support for this population.

“The material I learned in the classroom, combined with the hands-on experience working alongside this population, allowed me to recognize the cause and effect that occurs due to a challenging upbringing,” Fisher added.

“I am so proud of Brooke, who worked tirelessly to create an informative and meaningful film to help us understand the potential root causes of Hawaiʻi‘s houseless crisis,” added HDFS Assistant Professor Sothy Eng. “As she points out, if we don’t spend more time investing in our families and our children, we will never be able to overcome this crisis.”

Watch the full 9-minute documentary. Fisher’s project was funded via a UH Mānoa Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program award.

This is an example of UH Mānoa’s goal of Enhancing Student Success (PDF), one of four goals identified in the 2015–25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.

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