Bonus Episode: LIVE SHOW

A monologue about a young man and his family facing eviction starts a conversation about housing instability, youth homelessness, and aging out of the system. Featuring conversations with Selena Ortiz, a young woman currently in the system, and Dr. Nikia Owens, the Director of Income and Financial Stability Community Impact at the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.

Click here to read a transcript of this episode.

The orange paper on my door shocked me. I looked at the orange paper and read it five times. Then to make sure I read it five more times. We were getting evicted, and there was nothing to do about it.
— from "Orange Paper" by Branden Hall

Selena Ortiz recently turned 18. She is approaching her final days in a 30 day shelter. After that, she's not sure where she'll be able to go.

"The most difficult thing I'm up against in the present moment is temptation. Temptation to not give up, temptation to not keep moving forward... Every time I take three steps forward, I feel like I take five steps back."

Though she recently graduated from high school and is enrolled at the Community College of Philadelphia, she has none of her records and only recently acquired her Social Security card. Without her birth certificate, Selena is unable to open a bank account. 

Selena's story is not uncommon. It is sobering. But it is not uncommon.

On this episode of Mouthful, Selena shares her story, and we talk to Dr. Nikia Owens, whose work at the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey is dedicated to income and housing instability. It's a personal conversation, with first person accounts of the systemic challenges and issues facing youth and their families in the City of Philadelphia. 

further reading & resources

If you need housing assistance or other resources, dial 211, Metro United Way's help referral service. A trusted and caring call specialist will listen to the full scope of your issue and connect you immediately to the right source.

For information about becoming a foster parent in Philadelphia, check out "General Steps to Foster Family Care" via Philadelphia's Department of Human Services.

The People's Emergency Center provides support for families in need as well as resources for independent living. Their website includes a variety of resources and information to connect those in need with help, support, and safety.

Youth Emergency Services offers immediate housing and respite to youth facing housing insecurity or are unable to safely live with family. 

Read "Philly women shatter broken foster child image" from Metro Philly, profiling the stories of four women who have become foster care advocates after moving through the system themselves as young people.

For a deeper understanding of some of the systemic issues perpetuating income and housing instability, check out this article about the increasing lack of affordable housing in Philadelphia from Jacobin Magazine.

Click here to learn more about Philadelphia Young Playwrights.


Listening to Selena’s story made me appreciate what I have.
— Trinity Williams


Read rising high school senior Trinity Williams' take on the live show here.

"Orange Paper" by Branden Hall is performed by Yannick Haynes under the direction of Mitchell Bloom