Last year I was hired to film a short documentary series that quickly became the most meaningful project I've ever worked on in my professional career to-date. That project was The Arc of Northern Virginia's Housing Choice Voucher web series.
I first became familiar with The Arc during my time filming the Wings for All program, which is a simulated commercial flight experience so individuals with disabilities may learn and practice what it's like to navigate an airport, get screened by TSA, and board a real aircraft.
After my work on several Wings for All events, The Arc of Northern Virginia tapped me for a new video project - a documentary web series portion of a grant in partnership with the Virginia Housing Development Agency and Virginia Housing and Supportive Services. Each short film educates viewers about the Housing Choice Voucher option offered in Virginia.
Housing Choice Vouchers give individuals with disabilities affordable access to independant housing, which increases quality of life and satisfaction over other housing options, such as group homes. This allows other sources of income, such as Medicaid waivers, to go further in paying for other necessary services such as in-home caregivers.
Filming the series took place over the course of several months, in various locations across the Northern Virginia region. Filming this series introduced me to many vibrant people with incredible stories, and all do great work in the local, state, and even national community, which you'll see in the series itself. This series was truly and incredible experience to work on, and even though it was definitely the most challenging project I've taken on to-date (this series required an immense amount of post-production; each interview was about 1.5 - 2hrs long), this documentary series is by far the most meaningful project I have ever completed - I am truly proud to have been a part of it in cooperation with The Arc, and I truly look forward to more projects similar to this one.
Before we get into the series itself, I'd like to share some useful links which will help you learn more information about Housing Choice Vouchers in Virginia.
- The Arc of Northern Virginia Homepage
- The Arc of Northern Virginia Housing Choice Voucher Housing Toolkit
- United States Department of Housing and Urban Development List of Virginia Housing Choice Voucher and Section 8 Providers by County
- Fairfax County, Virginia Department of Housing Fairfax County Rental Program
- Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development Reasonable Accommodation Packet
- The Arc (National) Homepage
And now, here are all films in the series.
Housing Choice Voucher 2016 Series: #1 - Brian
Brian, his family, and caregivers detail how his life has improved thanks to the Housing Choice Voucher following his traumatic brain injury.
Housing Choice Voucher 2016 Series: #2 - Gail and Esther
Gail and Esther are best friends who live independently in the same apartment complex, and have technological aids to help them.
Housing Choice Voucher 2016 Series #3 - David and Rory
David and Rory live together in spacious apartment, and are now able to cook their own meals and travel their own community, which was impossible in the group home setting they both lived in before receiving their Housing Choice Vouchers.
Housing Choice Voucher 2016 Series: #4 - Rogan
Rogan's Housing Choice Voucher has helped provide him with a stable home with a live-in caregiver, as his parents begin to age.
Housing Choice Voucher 2016 Series: #5 - Theresa
Theresa Rankin was homeless from the medical expenses following her traumatic brain injury, but a series of events turned that around and now she has an apartment where she lives independently. Theresa then founded BrainLine.org, a national non-profit organization in partnership with PBS specializing in preventing, treating, and living with traumatic brain injuries. Theresa continues to be a National Community Educator with Brain Injury Services.
Housing Choice Voucher 2016 Series: #6 - Robert
Robert was able to receive a Housing Choice Voucher even after a legal misunderstanding resulting from his disability, after he completed a Reasonable Accommodation Application.
Finally, I have to thank Kymberly DeLoatche, Lucy Beadnell, Rikki Epstein, Janene Shaw, and everyone else who was instrumental in making this large, technical, and wonderful project a reality! Thank you for all your help!