Summer of IDEAS
The Future of Housing
Making Homes Happen

Invisible Child follows eight dramatic years in the life of Dasani Coates, a child with an imagination as soaring as the skyscrapers near her Brooklyn homeless shelter. Born at the turn of a new century, Dasani is named for the bottled water that comes to symbolize Brooklyn’s gentrification and the shared aspirations of a divided city. As Dasani grows up, moving with her tight-knit family from shelter to shelter, this story goes back to trace the passage of Dasani’s ancestors from slavery to the Great Migration north. By the time Dasani comes of age, New York City’s homeless crisis is exploding as the chasm deepens between rich and poor.

Film Screening & Discussion

Panel Discussion on Homelessness and Poverty

Join us for a conversation with Andrea Elliott, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Invisible Child, Chanel Sykes, homeless advocate and mother featured in Invisible Child, and James Perry, president and CEO of the Winston-Salem Urban League. The discussion will be moderated by Melissa Harris-Perry, Maya Angelou Presidential Chair at Wake Forest University, Professor & Writer. This panel discussion is part of the National Low Income Housing Coalition's Summer of IDEAS (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Anti-racism, and Systems-thinking) educational series.

    • Register for the panel discussion scheduled for August 4, from 3 PM - 4:15PM ET. Registered participants will receive the event link in their inboxes, including reminder emails leading up to the event. (ASL services will be provided)

Invisible Child

In the shadows of this new Gilded Age, Dasani must lead her seven siblings through a thicket of problems: hunger, parental drug addiction, violence, housing instability, segregated schools, and the constant monitoring of the child-protection system. When, at age thirteen, Dasani enrolls at a boarding school in Pennsylvania, her loyalties are tested like never before. As she learns to “code switch” between the culture she left behind and the norms of her new town, Dasani starts to feel like a stranger in both places. Ultimately, she faces an impossible question: What if leaving poverty means abandoning the family you love?

Andrea Elliott
Andrea Elliott

Panelist, NYT Investigative Reporter and Author of Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival & Hope in an American City

Chanel Sykes

Panelist, Featured in Invisible Child and NYT 5-Part Series

Melissa Harris-Perry
Melissa Harris-Perry

Moderator, Maya Angelou Presidential Chair at Wake Forest University, Professor & Writer

James Perry
James Perry

Panelist, president and CEO of the Winston-Salem Urban League


“Unflinching, tenacious reporting... A vivid and devastating story of American inequality.”

- Matthew Desmond, New York Times Book Review

“Searing... This transformative true story of resilience and the cost of equality will haunt you long after you turn the last page.

- Madeleine Feeny, Culture Whisper

“Elliott’s book is a triumph of in-depth reporting and storytelling. It is a visceral blow-by-blow depiction of what ‘structural racism’ has meant in the lives of generations of one family. But above all else it is a celebration of a little girl—an unforgettable heroine whose frustration, elation, exhaustion, and intelligence will haunt your heart.”

- Ariel Levy, author of The Rules Do Not Apply

“Elliott has achieved a towering feat of reporting that paints, layer by layer, an extraordinary portrait of a child, a family, a city, and the nation that produced them. From start to finish, she sustains an insatiably curious and deeply empathetic focus on worlds that so many people work hard, if mostly unconsciously, to never really see.”

- Howard W. French, author of Born in Blackness: Africa, Africans, and the Making of the Modern World