Invisible People: Watch Poignant Mini-Documentaries Where Homeless People Tell Their Stories

Over the past year, the sto­ry of evic­tions dur­ing COVID has often risen above the muck. It’s made head­lines in major news­pa­pers and TIME mag­a­zine, and received seri­ous atten­tion from the gov­ern­ment, with stop-gap evic­tion mora­to­ri­ums put in effect and renewed sev­er­al times, and like­ly due to be renewed again. Stop­ping evic­tions is not enough. “For many land­lords,” notes the Unit­ed Way, “the order cre­at­ed a finan­cial bur­den of hous­ing renters with no pay­ments,” and with­out income, they have no way to pay. But these mea­sures have kept many thou­sands of vul­ner­a­ble adults and chil­dren from expe­ri­enc­ing home­less­ness.

And yet mora­to­ri­ums aside, the num­ber of peo­ple los­ing their homes is on the rise dur­ing the pan­dem­ic, with a dis­pro­por­tion­ate impact on Black, Lat­inx, and Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties, and shel­ters have been forced to close or low­er capac­i­ty. Fram­ing increas­ing home­lessnes sole­ly as a cri­sis dri­ven by the virus miss­es the fact that it has been grow­ing since 2016, though it is down from pre-2007 lev­els. “Even before the cur­rent health/economic cri­sis,” notes a Home­less­ness Research Insti­tute report, “the old­er adult home­less pop­u­la­tion was pro­ject­ed to trend upwards until 2030.”

Indeed, home­less­ness has seemed like a sad, inevitable fact of Amer­i­can life for decades. Rather than accept the sit­u­a­tion, orga­ni­za­tions like Invis­i­ble Peo­ple have worked to end it. “The first step to solv­ing home­less­ness,” they write, “is acknowl­edg­ing that its vic­tims are peo­ple. Reg­u­lar peo­ple. Fathers. Moth­ers. Vet­er­ans. Whole fam­i­lies. Folks who fell on hard times and lost their core foun­da­tion of being human — their homes.” No one asks to be in the sit­u­a­tion, and the longer a per­son goes unhoused, the hard­er it is for them to rebuild their lives.

Invis­i­ble Peo­ple offers action steps and pub­lish­es well-researched jour­nal­ism on the prob­lems, and solu­tions, for the mil­lions of peo­ple expe­ri­enc­ing home­less­ness at any giv­en time. But as their name sug­gests, their pri­ma­ry aim is to make the lives of unhoused peo­ple vis­i­ble to those of us who tend to walk right by them in our haste. We can feel over­whelmed by the intractable scale of the prob­lem, which tends to turn indi­vid­u­als into sta­tis­tics. Invis­i­ble Peo­ple asks us to “change the sto­ry,” and to start by approach­ing home­less­ness one per­son, or one fam­i­ly, at a time.

Invis­i­ble Peo­ple was found­ed in Los Ange­les by Mark Hor­vath, a for­mer TV exec­u­tive who became home­less after drug and alco­hol addic­tion in 1995. After recov­er­ing, he lost his home again dur­ing the 2008 Reces­sion. Hor­vath began inter­view­ing peo­ple he met on the streets of L.A. and post­ing the videos to YouTube and Twit­ter. Soon, the project became a glob­al one, incor­po­rat­ed as a non-prof­it, and Hor­vath has trav­eled across the U.S. and to Cana­da, Peru, and the UK to inter­view peo­ple liv­ing with­out homes.

The project, says Hor­vath is designed to fos­ter  “a con­ver­sa­tion about solu­tions to end home­less­ness [that] gives home­less peo­ple a chance to tell their own sto­ry.” Those sto­ries are mov­ing, human, unfor­get­table, and usu­al­ly not at all what you might expect. You can see some of them here, and many more at the Invis­i­ble Peo­ple YouTube chan­nel. Con­nect with the orga­ni­za­tion and find out what you can do here.

via Boing­Bo­ing

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Design­er Cre­ates Origa­mi Card­board Tents to Shel­ter the Home­less from the Win­ter Cold

How Josephine Bak­er Went From Home­less Street Per­former to Inter­na­tion­al Super­star, French Resis­tance Fight­er & Civ­il Rights Hero

The New York Pub­lic Library Lets Patrons Check Out Ties, Brief­cas­es & Hand­bags for Job Inter­views

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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