Have the homeless become invisible? Video shows people walking past their loved ones 'living' on the street

The Make them Visible campaign demonstrates just how invisible homeless people have become

A social experiment devised to challenge the way the homeless are perceived found people were unable to recognise their loved ones if they were sat on the street and would, in every case, walk straight past them.

The Make them Visible campaign discovered that not a single participant in their study recognised their close relatives or partner if they were dressed up as a homeless person.

Actors were recruited by the campaign to play homeless people and their unsuspecting family members were then approached to see if they would take part in a social experiment, without being told what the experiment entailed.

The video asks: "Have the homeless become so invisible, we wouldn’t notice our own family members living on the street?" before showing the actors being made-up to look as if they lived on the streets of New York.

A hidden camera then captured their loved ones walking straight past them, oblivious to the fact that it is actually their relatives sat on the pavement.

One woman's husband walked past her without noticing his seemingly invisible wife sat on the floor, while another participant managed to walk past her mother, uncle and aunt without realising any of them were posing as homeless people.

Participants were visibly startled and upset when they were informed afterwards that the homeless person they ignored was actually someone they cared about.

"There’s only one person that didn’t make it into the film, because they couldn’t handle the fact that they walked by their family," Jun Diaz, who directed the video told Fast Company. "It happened every time."

The video was produced for the New York City Rescue Mission (NYCRM) and filmed near its shelter in Soho. 

"The experiment is a powerful reminder that the homeless are people, just like us, with one exception," Craig Mayes, executive director of NYCRM, said in a statement.

"They are in trouble and in pain. And they are someone's uncle or cousin or wife."

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