Niya has been homeless since 11 years-old. I cannot even imagine all the pain and suffering this wonderful woman has experienced growing up on the streets and in the system.
I met Niya living behind a fence with several other women near a major street in Phoenix, Arizona. Niya says she wants to be homeless because of her addiction, but no one wants to live without adequate housing. She has just ‘conditioned’ herself to street life. In a way, the streets of Phoenix have become her family!
Niya is a smart woman with a good heart. It’s simply a miracle that she can stay positive given the life she has lived. Miya knows what she has to do. She knows she must get off the drugs. But getting off drugs is not that easy when the chance of her finding living wage employment is nearly impossible. Niya has a felony on her record, which prevents her from getting normal employment and other benefits needed to survive. For example: did you know people with a felony cannot get food stamps? After people are released from jail they cannot find employment to buy food and social service programs don’t allow them to get assistance. It’s almost as if the system works against them so they are forced to commit more crime just to survive, which sends them back to jail!
Niya’s third wish was for God to answer her prayers. Since God works through people, it’s up to us to make her wishes come true. We must fix family so no child end up homeless, we must fix the ‘system’ so that when people get out of jail there is support for them to get back into normal society, and we must coordinate recovery efforts with homeless services so when someone like Niya wants to get sober we can get them help that does not exit them back to homelessness!
Special thanks to Phoenix Rescue Mission
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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.