If your loved ones were disguised as homeless street people, slumped over against a dirty building, would you ignore them? People videotaped for a social experiment did, walking right by their relatives who were transformed into dispossessed and destitute individuals eking out a living one day, one moment, at a time. The resulting video – now going viral – shows several people coming face-to-face with their relatives, and walking on.
According to the Huffington Post on April 23, a new campaign called “Make Them Visible” has been put out by the New York City Rescue Mission. The NYC Mission, established in 1872 and based on Lafayette Street in New York, has as its stated mission “to provide help and hope for the hungry, homeless and hurting men and women of New York City.”
The video starts off with the message: “Have the homeless become so invisible, we wouldn’t notice our own family members living in the street?” The director of the video, Jun Diaz of the Smuggler Production Company, said that each of their participants completely ignored their family members, in some cases glancing directly at them before impassively looking away. “There’s only one person that didn’t make it into the film,” Diaz said. “Because they couldn’t handle the fact that they walked by their family.”
After the family members were shown the video, many just sat stunned. As the realization hit home that the person they roundly ignored was in fact their wife, bother, parent or other family member, each one gave pause at their choice to pay no heed to the person they thought inconsequential, negligible in any importance to them during the course of their day. But the reality is, every homeless person had a family at one point, or friends, or loved ones, or someone. They all have a past, and need a little help perhaps with their future.
“The experiment is a powerful reminder that the homeless are people, just like us, with one exception,” said Craig Mayes, executive director of New York City Rescue Mission. “They are in trouble and in pain. And they are someone's uncle or cousin or wife.”
The Christian Post calls the video “provocative,” and states it may “bring tears to your eyes.” The elaborate undercover scheme documents the unwitting participants and their reactions when they saw footage of themselves walking by careworn loved ones. And while the video participants went back to their homes and the care of their family, the bleak truth is that many do not.
According to a March 2014 fact sheet provided by Coalition for the Homeless, the statistics are sobering:
Homelessness in New York City has reached all time highs. Not since the Great Depression of the 1930s have so many been on the streets. In June 2013, there were an all-time record 53,615 homeless people. Included in these numbers are close to 13,000 families and almost 23,000 children. According to the Coalition report, the primary cause of homelessness is a lack of affordable housing. The stats only can count those who are in shelters; thousands more spend their nights and days in the streets, sewers, subway systems and public parks.
To find out more about the New York City Rescue Mission visit http://nycrescue.org/. Please share this article and video.