Our project will address the stigma surrounding homelessness by raising awareness and sharing stories online using social media. We hope that this can begin to break down the negative stereotypes that envelop the homeless population and thus improve the treatment they receive from the public and even the government. Showing the public that unhoused people are worthy of respect and support can open many opportunities for them to lead happier lives. If our project can reach any youth who are or have been homeless and show them that they are respected we can also reduce self-stigma. Raising awareness will also tackle the overall lack of understanding that the public has about what it is like to be unhoused. We also hope our content can hopefully broaden the public’s understanding of being unhoused to include couch-hopping, rooming with a friend, or feeling unsafe in your own home, so that more people understand the truth and how more people are at risk than they realize.
Our Stop the Stigma project is all about sharing the true stories of what it is actually like to be unhoused using the internet, specifically targeting the young people on the platforms we want to use such as Instagram, TikTok, and Youtube. We want to share these stories for many reasons: to raise awareness, create empathy and spark action. We want to raise awareness so that youth who have never even thought about homelessness can realize the scale of the issue. Our team wants to educate our peers and learn more about the problem ourselves. We also want to have our platform be a safe place for youth who are experiencing, have experienced or are at risk of homelessness so they can learn more about the resources that are available to them and know they are heard.
Furthermore, being exposed to the true stories of unhoused people can create empathy. If someone is educated about what it means to be unhoused they may be more likely to be kind the next time they meet someone who doesn't have a place to stay. Many people walk by unhoused folks without a second glance, without a smile, nod or any acknowledgment that they are even human, unlike how they would treat a stranger in other circumstances. Others are afraid or horrified, actively going out of their way to avoid the unhoused people they see. Worse are those that make an effort to be cruel, those who harass unhoused people who are just minding their own business. Our project aims to humanize unhoused people and discourage negative treatment because it is harder to be awful to someone when you understand what they have been through and see their personality. Finally, the Stop the Stigma project hopes to spark action in other young people. Our team grew passionate about this issue because we were exposed to the truth and injustice of it and so we hope that by spreading awareness we can encourage other people to do the same. The overall point of all these goals is to reduce the stigma surrounding homelessness and by extension the inequality we see everyday.