“You all really did a great job with the film. It brought me back to my childhood.” 

A former Southside Homes resident expressed this after the screening of the documentary, Southside Homes: A Catalyst of Hope. Additional Southside Homes residents shared similar feelings of pride and fond memories.

Why Southside Homes

The documentary resulted from an engagement between Alliance Health, INLIVIAN and Next Stage, formalizing the HOPE Collaborative. Next Stage had the privilege of working with both organizations, and Blue Label Visuals, to explore the intersection of health, housing, education and workforce development at Southside Homes. The documentary leverages community voice and lived experience from the dedicated staff, long-time residents, and nonprofit partners embedded in the community. 

Southside Homes was founded in 1952 and is the oldest remaining public housing complex in Charlotte with 394 apartments sprawling over 41 acres just outside uptown. While many articles and research over the years have focused largely on negative news and trauma, few have explored the resiliency and hope that exist in this community nestled in South End. Because of this, we intentionally created an asset-based documentary to make residents and partners especially proud.

Throughout the filming, I had the opportunity to speak with many people over several months – members of the Residents’ Council, support staff, maintenance staff, executive-level team members, nonprofit leaders, a local school principal, former residents and community leaders. The perspectives varied, but every person that I spoke with shared a common message: Southside Homes is a community filled with life, purpose and hope. Of course, some individuals expressed challenging circumstances and struggles, but that is not unique to this neighborhood. We found (to no surprise) that many want the same thing every Charlottean wants – a thriving life and a better future for themselves and their children. 

The Documentary

On November 8, we debuted the documentary to a room full of people who care about the Southside community. Many were curious about how social drivers impact health and/or had a willingness to work together for collective impact. Leaders from Alliance Health and INLIVIAN shared more about their hopes for the neighborhood. They discussed the importance of housing as healthcare and of creating a community that addresses a range of needs. Investing in Southside Homes by boosting resources builds resilience and success. 

I learned from this process that how we partner with others matters. When we are creative and build upon established trust, we are able to disrupt siloes and the “standard operating procedure”. Focusing on assets allows us to build an inclusive, thoughtful and welcoming framework. We hope this documentary inspires you to engage in conversation about what it looks like to put people first. We may just find that this approach drives health, hope, strength and impact for every child and family in our communities.

You can watch Southside Homes: A Catalyst of Hope here or below. We can’t wait to hear what you think!