Detroit Homeless Man Survived Cancer Twice While on the Streets



I met William while out on the streets with Street Medicine Detroit, a student-run nonprofit that provides healthcare to homeless people in Detroit. The medical students and the nurse practitioner were talking to a homeless man at an exit ramp when William walked up pushing his shopping cart. William knew the medical team, saying hello with a big smile on his face as he approached.

I talked to William a little bit at the exit ramp. He told me he was in a hurry to get to his spot. William continued that if I walk down to meet him there, he would give me a more extended interview.

William has lived homeless in Detroit since July of 2009. A few years’s prior, he lost his house to foreclosure. William was one of the millions of people that were sold a bad mortgage that was impossible to pay back.

William says that each year he lives on the streets homeless his health keeps deteriorating. William has survived cancer twice. He suffers from COPD, a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs.

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Since its launch in November 2008, Invisible People has leveraged the power of video and the massive reach of social media to share the compelling, gritty, and unfiltered stories of homeless people from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. The vlog (video blog) gets up close and personal with veterans, mothers, children, layoff victims and others who have been forced onto the streets by a variety of circumstances. Each week, they’re on InvisiblePeople.tv, and high traffic sites such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, proving to a global audience that while they may often be ignored, they are far from invisible.

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. The vlog puts 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 InvisiblePeople.tv 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.

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