Probably hundreds of people walked by Rob on Hollywood Blvd. The very few that gave money didn’t stop long enough to actually meet Rob and listen to his story. Rob sat on the most famous sidewalk in the world while most of the world passed by as if he was invisible.
Rob doesn’t want to be called homeless. He prefers the term “domestically challenged”. Rob says his story is the classic sob story. Ron was working putting himself through college. He was even engaged to be married. A drunk driver hit his car. The accident started a downward financial spiral, and over time, the end result – Ron lost everything and hasn’t been able to recover since.
The night before this interview Rob slept on the streets in Hollywood, which is illegal. Rob has actually been ticketed for sleeping outside. It’s very sad, and very costly to taxpayers, that communities continue to increase the criminalization of homeless people as a solution to ending homelessness!
Rob speaks very candid about the recidivism of homeless people being placed into housing and, mostly because the housing was a wrong fit, or lack of community, or real support, the person goes back to living on the streets. Its the side of the housing first model you don’t often hear about. The pressure to get housing placements up is felt by all homeless services. Often to meet those numbers, people are placed in housing that is not a match for their needs. The pressure needs to be placed on getting people into the right housing and not just any housing!
When I asked Ron for his three wishes he responded “eating, sleeping, or for using the bathroom there should never be a charge!”
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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.