Exclusive Trailer: The Way Home Chronicles the State With the Largest Homelessness Epidemic in the U.S.

The Way Home (2020)
The Way Home (2020)
Photo: Courtesy of KTF Films, Bread and Butter Films

The global pandemic has produced significant issues throughout the country (and the world, of course) and it has also exacerbated existing issues. The homelessness crisis, for example, has only gotten worse.


From acclaimed filmmakers Camille Servan-Schreiber & Don Hardy (produced by Servan-Schreiber, Hardy and Shawn Dailey), The Way Home is a short-form nonfiction series chronicling the epidemic of homelessness in California—the state with the largest population of homeless (or the term some have embraced, “houseless”) people in the U.S.

The Root is pleased to exclusively debut the trailer for the docuseries:

The Way Home trailer / Courtesy of KTF Films, Bread and Butter Films

“The issue with homelessness is people don’t have a place to live, “Nan Roman, President and CEO of National Alliance to End Homelessness says in the trailer. “Everyone is saying it’s an emergency, but the response isn’t acting like an emergency.”

The Root has also obtained a sneak peek clip of the series, in which Jacqueline Waggoner, president of the Solutions Division at Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. breaks down one related aspect of California’s homelessness crisis: building construction continues, but how many residents can actually afford to live there? Why are there people without shelter when we have these vacant buildings? When we have “shelter-in-place” mandates—where do people without access to shelter go?

The Way Home exclusive clip / Courtesy of KTF Films, Bread and Butter Films

“We can’t build our way out of the affordable homeless crisis,” Waggoner says in the clip. “We have to actually preserve the affordability in the existing units. But we can take some immediate steps and start giving people the opportunity to come indoors.”

As Staff Writer Anne Branigin reported this year in March:

For years, a housing crisis in California has been coming to a head as skyrocketing rents have outpaced people’s wages. That crisis has led to a growing homeless population the state has struggled to assist. Now, with the coronavirus pandemic requiring Californians to “shelter-in-place,” homeless families find themselves running out of safe options.

In response, homeless families and others living in precarious situations in Los Angeles have taken part in the “Reclaiming Our Homes” movement, the Huffington Post reports. An organized group has moved into 12 homes owned by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) in the El Sereno neighborhood of L.A. According to reporting by the Los Angeles Times, Caltrans owns dozens more empty homes in the area.


In September, California Gavin Newsom announced the first round of awards (totaling $76.5 million for 10 projects across seven counties and cities) through Project Homekey, “an effort to purchase and convert motels and vacant apartment buildings into housing for the homeless.” There is $600 million allotted to the state for the coronavirus relief-based project, which expires at the end of the year (i.e. it must be used by then or be forfeited).

Here’s the breakdown of each episode of The Way Home series:

Episode 1:

“How Did We Get Here?”

In the first episode of THE WAY HOME we examine the origins the homelessness crisis in the US and how has grown to an epidemic in California.

Episode 2:

“The Most Vulnerable”

More than half of homeless people in California are seniors. One pilot program in Northern California is focused on getting them off the street.

Episode 3:

“The Invisible”

In one California community volunteers, non-profit organizations, and the local government are working together to find creative ways to get people into sustainable housing … and it’s working.

Episode 4:

“The California Dream”

California is in the midst of a housing crisis, and the lack of affordable housing is why so many become homeless.


The Way Home premieres Dec. 4 and will be available to view via iTunes, Amazon Prime Video and Google Play.

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.


Sorely Vexed

One reason why building new housing isn’t the answer is that it costs an absurd amount to build “affordable” housing in Cali.

The statewide average for a “cheaply built” apartment in a 4-5 storey block is $480k, with the price quickly rising to $1m in places like San Francisco.

Much of this is due to high construction costs, but it’s also the result of excessive bureaucracy and not a little fraud in the way contracts are awarded and managed. Add a sprinkling of nepotism and you have a rich stew of incompetence.

Until California can remember how to build a tarpaper shack for less than a mil, new housing is always going to be a nonstarter and every bond initiative to fund it wasted money.