One tweet can make a difference — for better or for worse.
The Canadian advocacy group Raise the Roof aimed to demonstrate this idea with its latest public service announcement, which features homeless Canadians reading mean tweets written about homeless people.
“If home is where the heart is, then are the homeless heartless?” reads Cheryl, who’s been homeless for seven years.
Peter, who has been homeless for eight years, reads, “I wonder if homeless people go to heaven.”
And Jesse, who’s been homeless for three years, reads a tweet that says, “I hate when it gets cold out because then all the homeless people get on the bus.”
Other tweets read in the video leave the homeless speechless or gasping at the cruelty of the social media sentences. Note: The video contains some mature themes and language.
Homelessness has been widely discussed in Canada for some time. In fact, Raise the Roof has brought awareness to the issue of homelessness in Canada in recent weeks, launching the hashtag #HumansForHumans alongside the video, according to The Huffington Post.
About 150,000 to 300,000 Canadians are left homeless every year, according to The Homeless Hub, a Canadian government website that looks for solutions to help the homeless. In fact, 1.3 million Canadians in total have experienced homelessness or “extremely insecure housing” within the last five years, according to the website.
Just south in the United States, more than 600,000 people experience homelessness on any given night, with about 150,000 of those homeless Americans being children, according to the 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress.
That’s why there have been recent efforts to lessen the amount of homelessness in America. The 2013 report found that homelessness declined by about 4 percent from 2012 to 2013 and 9 percent overall since 2007.
New York City, where there were 25,000 homeless children in 2014, has spearheaded the fight to end homelessness in the U.S. by building more permanent housing in the city, The Huffington Post reported. The Big Apple’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, has also worked on a plan that gave 300 homeless families a place to live.
Still, there’s work to be done, according to Carmela DeCandia, the director of the National Center on Family Homelessness. She spoke to Stateline about how Americans can help end homelessness by having more conversations about the issue.
“The nation hasn’t really prioritized family and child homelessness,” DeCandia told Stateline. “How are we going to target resources if we’re not on the same page about the size of the problem?”
Raise the Roof hopes its mean tweets PSA will spread the word about homelessness to fix the problem in Canada.
This style of public service announcement is nothing new as far as Canadians are concerned. Last month, a similar Canadian video showed teens reading mean tweets sent by bullies to highlight the effects of cyberbullying in schools across Canada and the United States. Watch that video here.
Both of these PSA videos play off of the “Reading Mean Tweets” segment from Jimmy Kimmel’s late night television show. President Barack Obama, Hollywood celebrities and professional athletes have all read mean tweets for the segment.