HEAR US videos

Check out the latest HEAR US Compassion Challenge, a 30-day calendar that connects HEAR US videos with Dismazed and Driven, Diane Nilan's new memoir-social justice narrative.

Since 2005, HEAR US has filmed and produced short videos to increase awareness of and sensitivity to families and youthexperiencing homelessness. We thought it would be helpful to offer links to these videos, with brief descriptions, on one page. (HEAR US YouTube channeland/or Vimeo) Watch, share! 

If you'd like to show these videos to a larger audience and require a full-resolution version, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (giving ample time!).

What is most captivating about her video work is her patience and focus—she allows her subjects, children and parents, to talk about their daily lives. Ms. Nilan places these conversations within the context of the towns, schools, and current living arrangements. Often participants discuss their struggle, but what is most affecting is seeing and feeling the struggle through the environment and emotions of the interviewee.

 Richard Feistman, PhD
Senior Associate

Center for Collaborative Education
Using Our Heads and Hearts
to Educate Youth Experiencing 


Not Homeless Enough (8/21) Families deemed "not homeless enough" by HUD's standards struggle to find places to stay. In Dane County, including Madison, WI, hundreds of families lack housing and resources. Four parents shared their plights and hopes. (Accompanying news story from Wisconsin State Journal) 10 min.
Capital Failure: Family Homelessness Surging

(3/2021) When families lose housing, often they cannot turn to shelters, especially families in rural areas where no services exist. If lucky, they may end up in a motel room, but that is not a solution. Jamie shares a textbook story of her family's homelessness in a Raleigh, NC motel. 12-min.
Capital Failure 5-min. trailer

More info about this video and issue, http://bit.ly/3r6rt3u or www.hearus.us

12 min

5 min 

Danger Within (3.20) Diane Nilan reads a segment from her new book, Dismazed and Driven - My Look at Family Homelessness in America. This excerpt features an interview with Phil Mangano, a federal official whose reign focused on HUD's "Chronic Homelessness Initiative" at what some believe was the expense of families and youth. 5:30 min
This Is Homelessness (3/20) A short (3-min) excerpt from Dismazed and Driven - My Look at Family Homelessness in America. Diane Nilan's memoir/social narrative covers her 15 years of HEAR US (www.hearus.us) travels across US backroads, chronicling family homelessness while living in a small RV. Info: https://bit.ly/2ITtkZz 3 min
Ride It Out: Hurricane Michael Carnage (2/2020) Rosie's challenges after Hurricane Michael destroyed her family's home didn't stop with surviving the storm. Her life, and that of her 2 daughters, can be devastated by the aftermath, despite her impressive accomplishments. 4 min
Desperate In OR: Homeless Families and Youth (1/2020) Some areas of Oregon lack resources for families and youth experiencing homelessness. This 4-min video features a mother, a grandmother/granddaughter, and unaccompanied youth sharing their stories. 4.5 min

NCSU: Food Insecurity and Homelessnes 

(1/2020) Stories of 3 NCSU students sharing their experiences of food insecurity and homelessness at North Carolina State University. 3 min.
Invisible Homeless Families: 3 Moms, 9 Kids in Idaho (1/2020) In a very small town in rural Idaho, 3 courageous women with 3 kids each agreed to share their stories of homelessness. Spend 6-½ minutes with them and you'll catch on to the fact that family homelessness is much more prevalent than most realize. 6.5 min.

Without a Nest: Youth on her Own in Idaho
Alexa: Asked and Answered


(12/19) 18-yr.-old Alexa lives in a dilapidated camper, often without heat, water and electricity, in rural Idaho. She's struggling to graduate from high school. She has hopes and dreams. 


Companion piece: Alexa shares suggestions for her teachers and those who have students experiencing homelessness. Perfect for professional development. 

5 min.


5 min.

Parking Lot Survival (12/19) "Sara" and 6-yr.-old "Kenny" live in a small car with their beloved dog and cat in coastal Oregon. Spend a day with them to get a sense of what it takes to survive living in a car.  5 min.
Positively Homeless (9/19) A mother of 5 discusses her family's homelessness plight which is worsened by HUD's exclusion of families in motels. Part of the HEAR US 2020 VisionQuest project. 5 min.
No Place to Call Home: Hawaii's Youth & Families in Unstable Housing

(12/18) What is it like to be a homeless youth or family in Hawaii? This 19-minute documentary shares stories and observations from those who live on the streets and those who try to help. (Closed captions)

Funded by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education program of the Hawaii Department of Education.

19 min
Yay Babies! CA (5/18) Take a 3-min. look at the faces of babies and toddlers as they spend the day frolicking in a Sacramento daycare center that serves The Littles who are experiencing homelessness.  3 min
Worn Out Welcome Mat: Family Homelessness in New Jersey (3/18) New Jersey parents and kids share what it's like to experience homelessness and what school means to them. (20 min, low res) Funded by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education program of the NJ Department of Education. 20 min.
My Biggest Fear (3/18) Tamu shares what it's like to be homeless with her 4 children, living in a string of (not) cheap motels in rural New Jersey. Despite the hardships, she found a bright spot. 5 min. 5 min.
I'm Not Just a Homeless Kid (2/17) Samantha and Tricia, teen sisters with plenty of experience being homeless, offer their poignant thoughts on what it's like, what schools do and can do, and what they see as their future. 4-minute trailer.  4 min.
(4/18) Samantha and Tricia offer plenty of suggestions and insights for those wondering how best to assist youth in homeless situations. 50-min. podcast perfect for professional development. PDF discussion guide. 50 min.
Other People's Places: Doubled Up - Eleanor (FL) Eleanor and her young son bounced around from relative to friend, finally being kicked out in a fit of exasperation by her sister. SW Florida has few shelters for families, and Eleanor's son has disabilities that would make shelter life extremely stressful. 5 min.
Nowhere to Go: Family Homelessness in America (6/17) This poignant look at family homelessness conveys the dire nature facing families with nowhere to go. The film, the most-viral video HEAR US has made, was produced for the congressional briefing to support the Homeless Children and Youth Act of 2019 (HR2001).
 8 min.
Big Hearts Needed:
Oregon's McKinney-Vento Liaisons Share Wisdom 
(6/17) Oregon's McKinney-Vento homeless liaison team has been recognized as the best in the nation (http://www.icphusa.org/national/shadows-state-state-ranking-accountability-homeless-students/). This 13-minute video gives a glimpse at duties of the liaisons and lets them share invaluable advice to anyone thinking of serving in this special role. Big Hearts Needed is funded by Oregon Department of Education's McKinney-Vento program.  13 min.
We Need a Little Time: Family & Youth Homelessness in Washington State (6/18) Families and youth from across Washington State share what it's like to be without a place to call home. (16 minutes) We Need a Little Time is funded by the Washington State Office of Public Instruction's McKinney-Vento program. 16 min.
What Does 'Homeless' Look Like: Family and Youth Homelessness in New Hampshire Filmed in April, 2017, this video explores family and youth homelessness in the Granite State. Excellent film for professional development to help staff understand family/youth homelessness from the viewpoint of those experiencing it, and for anyone interested in learning more about family/youth homelessness. 18 min.
Nowhere to Go: Idaho's Homeless Families and Youth Filmed in October 2016, this video gives voice to parents experiencing homelessness in the Gem State, Idaho. Shelters are scarce, as is affordable housing, leaving families scrambling. Funded by the ID Department of Education, McKinney-Vento program. 10 min.
Time: Family and Youth Homelessness in the NorthWest (2017) A compilation of Diane's interviews from her 2016 Pacific Northwest trip. Perfect for a quick share!  5 min.
Yay Babies!
(2016) This new HEAR US short video is designed to inspire local awareness of and compassion for homeless babies. Share widely! 2 min.


Title/Series Link, subject Length
 My Own Four Walls (playlist)

 Contains 4 videos--

 My Own Four Walls  children/youth talking about their homelessness and what school means to them, original full-length 

> Life Filled With Benches (homeless youth)

> Littlest Nomads (homeless babies/toddlers)

      > Littlest Nomads 3 min. trailer

> REACH (McKinney-Vento explanation for parents, guardians, etc.)

My Own Four Walls trailer - Highlights from My Own Four Walls


20 min.

13 min.

11 min.

3 min.

11 min.

4 min.

on the edge                                                                                                        

Highlights from the 7 women (including unaccompanied youth) who share their stories about homelessness.  >  4-min trailer    > 8-min trailer  > Feature length (60 min)
> Columbia University School of Social Work students discuss OTE  


Our Greatest Fear Christina, a mom in Sarasota, FL, describes their once-stable family's fall into homelessness.  4:40 min
PA Homeless Families

A courageous group of kids without homes in PA tell viewers just what it's like. They are among tens of thousands (yes!) of kids without homes in PA...and among millions (yes!) in the U.S. 

4:30 min.
Worn Out Welcome Mat - KS

Explores doubled up homelessness among families and youth in Kansas. 

 (Funded by the Kansas Dept. of Education, McKinney-Vento program)

20 min.

Worn Out Welcome Mat - KS shorts


Excerpts from KS interviews.

 > Hector Has His Say - young boy shares his thoughts about being homeless.

> Melissa: It's All About Sex - Melissa and her 7-yo daughter have bounced between being doubled up, shelter, back to doubled up, their own place and more. Her story is a brutal one to watch, even worse to live.

> Marine Mama - Candace, a Marine, and her 4-yo daughter tumbled into homelessness and have doubled up with family and friends, bouncing in and out of shelters, despite her best efforts to get on her feet.

> Lifeline Needed - "Maggie" and her 2 teen daughters have bounced around from state to state, homeless because of domestic violence... a desperate situation.

>Daughter's Drum Not Silenced - Senta thought her daughter would not be able to continue playing drum in the band when they lost their housing. This HEAR US McKinney-Vento Minute story shares a happy note in their upended world. 

> Doubled Up, Desperate - Melissa and her 7-yo daughter bounced between bad-to-worse temporary places to stay in their 3 years of homelessness.


1:30 min.

4:00 min.


2:45 min.


2:00 min.


1:30 min.

1:00 min 

Camp IBA!


This 7-min. video shows highlights from one week of Camp IBA (Imagine! Believe! Achieve!), a project of Wichita School District 259's McKinney-Vento Homeless Education program. Filmed and produced by Diane Nilan, HEAR US Inc. (June 15-19, 2015)

7:00 min

Splash! Kids at Camp IBA got to enjoy swimming on a hot KS day. Here's a delightful look at their fun.


Worn Out Welcome Mat - TX

Diane traveled all across Texas to interview families and youth living in doubled up situations.

HEAR US Worn Out Welcome Mat TX project was funded by: The US Department of Education (USDE), the Texas Education Agency (TEA), Region 10, the University of Texas at Austin, the Charles A. Dana Center (UT Dana Center), and the Texas Homeless Education office (THEO).

20:00 min

Worn Out Welcome Mat - TX  


 Excerpts from TX interviews

> Oyuki-Hard to Explain Homelessness - How does a mother explain to her young children that they don't have a home?  Oyuki shares her family's struggles with being doubled up and worse.

> Ira's Story - Highly mobile, to say the least, Ira and his family are crammed in a small house with relatives. Being doubled up takes its toll on this impressive young man. 

> Olga: Dreams and Dusty Roads - Olga and her 8 children were crammed in a small camper with her aging, infirm, impoverished parents in Donna, TX. That was bad enough.

> Leia and Family - After losing their mobile home, Leia and her children have bounced around, dependent on others for a roof over their heads. 

> Homeless in Donna ISD - Olga, a devoted mom with her 8 children, was living with her infirm, impoverished parents in a small, ramshackle camper. 

> Ellen, Ellen, Your Fans Need Your Help! - Despite their dire homelessness situation, Olga and her 8 children lit up when they spoke of Ellen DeGeneres, smiling superstar talk show host. They expressed their invitation to Ellen to visit them in Donna, TX.


4:00 min.


2:30 min.


4:00 min.

2:30 min.

4:00 min.

4:00 min.

 Shelter You  The beautifully haunting music by Marybeth Saunders, I Will Shelter You, inspires viewers to respond compassionately with homeless families and youth.  4:00 min.
We Had It One Day - Lupe's Story  Lupe shares her story of loss of housing and belongings, including having their belongings auctioned, including sensitive personal items. As millions of households fall into homelessness, storage facilities can be the solution, or add to the problem.   4:00 min
 Demise of the Oglethorpe Inn  Ousted Oglethorpe Inn (GA) tenants empty to the street in Feb. 2011. Part 2 is a March 2013 look at what happened. For more of the story, check out Diane's blog at AlterNet. http://www.alternet.org/speakeasy/diane-nilan/peach-state-legislators-accomplished-causing-homelessness  7:00 min.

 Many Faces of Homelessness


Exploring invisible homelessness--families and youth--in support of the campaign to align HUD's definition of homelessness with that used by the US Department of Education (www.helphomelesskidsnow.org)

> Ayele and Family Near Disney World - On a neon-lit strip near Florida's Disney World, homeless families mix with tourists in the same motels. Those homeless, like the 6 people in Ayele's family, cram together, eking out an existence that's easily upended. See the turmoil of millions of families and youth who will find themselves stuck in motel-homelessness. 

> Brandy, Kenny and Kids - Brandy, Kenny and their 4 kids bounced around since Oct. 2011, stuck in the cycle of motel room after motel room, like countless homeless families. Determined to survive, they tough it out, but homelessness is taking a toll on their family life, shredding their marriage and upending their kids' stability. HUD wouldn't consider them homeless.

> Alexis - Alexis found herself without a place to stay when she was 17. She examines what that meant to her and how she survived. She's one of millions of kids without a place to live. And her living with others is not considered "homeless" by HUD.

> April - April and her family found themselves homeless and had to turn to a friend for a place to stay. That created hardships for her children, and would exclude the family from HUD housing assistance because they were not "truly homeless."

> Pass Homeless Children & Youth Act - This short film shows why we need to pass HR 32, the Homeless Children and Youth Act.

> So They Say - Homelessness for families and teens has long been ignored by Congress and HUD. From what they're proposing for the DEFINITION of HOMELESS, it's obvious that they don't understand the realities facing over 1.5 million homeless teens, children and families.

> Preschool In Motels - Families, with no place to turn, sometimes end up staying in cramped motel rooms instead of living on the streets. This family, a mom with 5 children, struggles to make the best of their situation, which could be worse, and could be better. 

4:00 min.



2:30 min.



2:00 min. 


2:30 min.


3:00 min.


2:30 min.


1:30 min.

 Life Is But A Dream The pitter-patter of little feet, the cooing of babies...not sounds typically attributed to homelessness, yet almost 50% of the over 1.5 million [now 2.5 mil+] children in America are under the age of 5.

The Campaign to End Child Homelessness invites people to speak out on behalf of children in America who, with their families, have no place to call home. Life is but a Dream (music by Sara Thomsen, used with permission) provides the inspiration....

 4:30 min.
Held By Angels  The comforting song, HOLY ANGELS, by the Three Altos (www.threealtos.com), wraps itself around HEAR US kids in My Own Four Walls (www.hearus.us).  3:30 min.
 Becky Blasts Homelessness Stereotypes  Homeless, with no shelter other than a small pop-up camper, Becky and her family in central Michigan endured months of brutally cold weather and multiple challenges to survival. This didn't stop her compassion and courage.   3:45 min.
We Didn't Ask to be Here The story of one desperate family in Idaho--in 4 minutes you'll hear how bad things can get and how little help is out there.  4:38




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