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2021 SHORTY PHENOM AWARDS

Previously known as the Shorty Social Good Awards, the Shorty Impact Awards is an awards program created to raise global awareness around the positive impact brands, agencies and non-profits can have on society.

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From the 5th Annual Shorty Social Good Awards

Invisible People: Changing the Story of Homelessness

Gold Distinction in YouTube

About this entry

THE PUBLIC’S INABILITY TO RELATE TO HOMELESSNESS IS OUR BIGGEST OBSTACLE TO ENDING IT.

Most people blame homelessness on the person experiencing it instead of on the shortage of affordable housing, gainful employment, living wages, childhood trauma, or countless other reasons that put a person at risk. This lack of understanding creates a dangerous cycle of misperception that leads to the inability to effectively address the root causes of homelessness and poverty, as public sentiment affects public policy.

Invisible People goes beyond the rhetoric, statistics, political debates, and limitations of social services to examine poverty in America via a medium that audiences of all ages can understand, and can’t ignore. Our videos put into context one of our nation’s most troubling and prevalent issues through personal stories captured by the lens of Mark Horvath – its founder – and brings into focus the pain, hardship and hopelessness that millions face each day. One story at a time, videos posted on our YouTube channel then mirrored on our website and social media shatter the stereotypes of America’s homeless, force shifts in perception, and deliver a call to action that is being answered by national brands, nonprofit organizations, and everyday citizens now committed to opening their eyes and their hearts to those too often forgotten.

Invisible People is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the way we think about people experiencing homelessness.

 

Why does this entry deserve to win?

Invisible People YouTube's channel connects people to the face of homelessness in a direct and meaningful way that humanizes and normalizes the subject and builds empathy in the viewer. This is achieved by being 'raw',  unedited and unscripted as well as through the medium chosen (social media and the internet). 

This is way more important and impactful than simple awareness. It's easy for homeless people to be an 'other.' Invisible People makes them real people with stories. Once people experiencing homelessness are real, normal, and sympathetic, it is easier for people to take action in support of ending homelessness. That action can be giving, donating, volunteering, or voting. Empathetic awareness is critical to creating change.

Our content elevates the voices of people suffering from homelessness. These stories spread awareness of the systemic issues that have led to this crisis, but they also let the people at the center tell their own stories.

As part of our strategy to reach new networks outside of the social services sector, we partner with major brands like Ford, Hanes, Pepsi, and YouTube on cause and educational campaigns. YouTube selected Invisible People to represent California in the United States of YouTube. YouTube's campaign featured Invisible People on Twitter and all of their social media channels, including educating people on homelessness via IG Stories. This past August, Invisible People worked with Hanes to donate 1 million masks to homeless people and an education campaign to encourage people to wear masks. Over the last ten years, we've partnered with Hanes to donate over 3 million pairs of socks to homeless people. 

Some of these stories can be painful, but others are beautiful. Especially in the time of coronavirus, housing insecurity is deeply intertwined with many systemic problems. Our channel allows the viewer to explore the many facets of homelessness and related issues, such as the criminalization of homelessness and the looming eviction crisis.

In addition to unfiltered first-person interviews and direct-to-camera vlogs from our founder, we’ve recently produced a series of mini-documentaries. These hyper-focused films put the spotlight on local relief efforts, such as a group tending to the wounds of the homeless during COVID-19.

Results

Our YouTube sets the standard. Most nonprofits in the homelessness space have only a few hundred subscribers. However, after a decade of building an audience, we have over 670,000 YouTube subscribers and growing. Our videos have received 90 million views in the last 365 days without relying on paid media. Recently, YouTube featured our video “Tending to the Wounds of Homelessness During the Coronavirus Pandemic” in their United States of YouTube campaign.

As a result of Invisible People's work, individuals have been housed, homeless people reunited with families, housing and feeding programs have been created, and millions of people have a new understanding of homelessness and homeless people.  

A few highlights:

In 2019, YouTube partnered with Invisible People to produce four VR180 (virtual reality) videos on homelessness

In 2016, the City and County of Los Angeles commissioned Invisible People to help pass Proposition HHH (supportive housing) and Measure H (sales tax), two homeless bonds that will raise $4.6 billion dollars in ten years! Seven of the top ten posts shared during Prop HHH came from Invisible People far above the LA Times and celebrity videos.

In 2011, Google asked Invisible People to produce video interviews of homeless people to be played for President Obama prior to his State of the Union YouTube interview.

In 2010, YouTube invited Invisible People to curate content on their homepage for 24 hours. 1.6 million individual viewers learned about homelessness from homeless people they would never speak to on their city sidewalks.

 

Media

Video for Invisible People: Changing the Story of Homelessness

Produced by

Invisible People

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