New York City must, by court order, provide temporary shelter to every person who asks. Currently, NYC spends about $1.8 billion a year on shelters, apartments, hotel rooms, and programs.

But is the City meeting their court-ordered mandate? How does the shelter system actually work?

In the spring of 2019, CUP collaborated with Teaching Artist Gabriella Coll and public high school students at Knowledge and Power Preparatory Academy (KAPPA) International High School in the Bronx to dig deep into the issue of homelessness. To investigate, students wove textiles to depict the cycle of homelessness, surveyed community members, visited a shelter, and interviewed key stakeholders working on the issue. This booklet is a guide to what students learned about homelessness in NYC and their ideas for shaping a different future.

Get your own booklet here!

Check out more photos of the students in action here!

What People Are Saying

“This was a very creative and exciting experience! We all got to work together and got to put our creativity to use!” – Amanda Rapha, student

“I learned a lot of new ways to make art. Gaby [the Teaching Artist] made my first CUP experience great!” – Praisia Ortiz, student

“[We] investigated homelessness, but more importantly – who’s making decisions as to what’s going on with homeless people and how temporary housing and programs with homelessness works.” – Brianna Douglas, student

“Many of my students were not aware of how much this subject impacted their daily lives. Through research, conversations, and art-making, they became personally invested in our investigation. Each of my students found a deeper connection that furthered their curiosity and allowed them to empathize with the experiences of the homeless individuals they met and learned about throughout our program.” – Gabriella Coll, Teaching Artist  

Resources & Links

Knowledge and Power Preparatory Academy International High School (KAPPA) is a small public high school in the Bronx dedicated to preparing its students for success in college. KAPPA offers the International Baccalaureate program for all interested and on-track Juniors and Seniors.

Funding Support

Major support for this program was provided by public funds from the New York City Development of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and Council Member Ritchie Torres.

Special Thanks

Miranda Grundy, Jade Levine

Thanks to our interviewees

Jermain Abdullah, Charmel Lucas, James Macklin, John Sentigar, Jacquelyn Simone, Seth Stewart


  • CUP
  • Teaching Artist
  • Gaby Coll

  • Project Lead
  • Fielding Hong

  • Project Support
  • Leigh Taylor

  • Knowledge and Power Preparatory Academy International High School (KAPPA)

  • Principal
  • Panorea Panagiosoulis

    • Vice Principal
    • Casey Smith
    • Students
    • Jaylyn Brown, Kenyon Cooper, Brianna Douglas, Brandon Downer, Jaime Fowler, Praisia Ortiz, Hildaleez Pizzini, Amanda Rapha, Nasser Troché