It is a social experiment that is causing many to ask themselves a difficult question: do they truly see homeless people or are they largely invisible?
The ad agency Silver + Partners and Smuggler have produced Make Them Visible, a video for the New York City Rescue Mission in which actors were hired and told they would be in a documentary. The actors' family members were then contacted and asked if they would be willing to dress as homeless people and sit on the sidewalk. The actors were then asked to walk down the street where their loved ones were disguised as homeless people. The question became, would they notice and recognize them, or would they be invisible homeless people to them?
Every single actor they hired walked through the homeless people without recognizing them as their relatives. Later, they were shown footage of themselves walking past their loved ones without noticing them, and only one of the actors refused to allow themselves to appear in the film, because they were unable to deal with the fact that they did not recognize their family members.
"We don't look at them," said Michelle Tolson, PR director for the Rescue Mission, told HuffPost. "We don't take a second look."
"[The homeless] are in trouble and in pain," said Craig Mayes, the Mission's executive director. "And they are someone's uncle or cousin or wife."