Food For Thought: If You’re Homeless, You’re Invisible

Fatimah Mazhar
April, 24, 2014: How would you feel if that homeless woman on the street was your mother?

The New York City Rescue Mission, America's first rescue mission founded in 1872, came up with a brilliant social experiment for their awareness campaign “Make Them Visible”.

Relatives of several unsuspecting pedestrians were told to pose as homeless people on the streets of NYC just to see if their loved ones would notice them.

The results were disturbing. Not t a single person recognized their mother, brother or wife.

The producers requested the actors gain permission from the clueless members of this social experiment to public the disturbing results a part of a documentary series.

The people who agreed to participate had no idea what they were being set up for and only learned the truth after they watched themselves walk past their "homeless" family member.

"We don't look at them. We don't take a second look," Michelle Tolson, director of public relations for the New York City Rescue Mission, told The Huffington Post.

Watch: Man Surprises Homeless People With Holiday Gifts

The experiment is a powerful reminder that the homeless are people, just like us, with one exception. They are in trouble and in pain. And they are someone's uncle or cousin or wife,” added the executive director of the rescue mission Craig Mayes.

According to a March 2014 fact sheet provided by Coalition for the Homeless, another NYC non-profit advocacy group focusing on the homeless:

In June 2013, there were an all-time record 53,615 homeless people, including 12,724 homeless families with 22,712 homeless children, sleeping each night in the New York City municipal shelter system. Families comprise three-quarters of the homeless shelter population.

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