Akron Student Film Seeks to Show the Human Side of Tent Community for the Homeless

Dec 18, 2017

A group of high school students in Akron has created a film about a tent community for homeless people.

'The homeless are people just like us.'

High school senior Luke Armao got the idea to make a film about Second Chance Village after volunteering there through a school program.

“And when we heard about some of the legal issues they were facing, we decided we wanted to do something to help," Armao said.

Armao created the film with four other students at Archbishop Hoban High School in Akron. Tom Mendenhall and David Fahey shot and edited the film, and Macy Petit and Gracie Bagdon were assistant directors. Bagdon said they all set out to challenge assumptions and stereotypes about  homeless people through the film.

“The homeless are people just like us," Bagdon said. "They have life stories, they have families, a lot of them have kids, and it’s not correct for us to assume things about them.”

In the 10-minute film, students interviewed residents and leaders of the tent community, including Sage Lewis, who owns the property. The city of Akron has threatened to shut down Second Chance unless Lewis applies for proper zoning. In the film, Lewis said he's willing to work with the city.

“He said he was really open to coming to a peaceful resolution," Bagdon said. "So I think it’s not a matter of Second Chance versus the city. It’s just a matter of doing what’s best for the homeless.”

The residents of Second Chance have said they prefer tents to traditional shelters. One neighbor has filed suit against the owner. The city of Akron says it will shut down Second Chance unless it applies for proper zoning.

Watch "A Place to Exist"