In Allentown, Pennsylvania, there’s a red brick building with a green door. Twelve families live there. They’re almost all single moms with kids, and they are all, by federal definition, homeless.
The families are part of a transitional housing program called Turner Street. It’s two years long, and its purpose is to give them what they need to pull themselves out of poverty.
The program is one of thousands across the country that operate under a certain assumption: that people who end up homeless don’t know how to take care of themselves — and they need to be taught. This idea has fallen out of favor with the federal government.
I followed three women as they made their way through Turner Street. Their experiences raise a question: when people are homeless, how much help do they need?