It’s been remarkable to watch the impact that social media has had in the arena of homelessness.
It’s been remarkable to watch the impact that social media has had in the arena of homelessness. Not only have Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube become venues for raising awareness about this issue among large numbers of viewers and readers, but those venues have also become sites at which people who are homeless can find support, links to services, and a powerful on-line community. There is even a site where people who are homeless can learn how to access and use social media tools for themselves, and become Twitterers, bloggers, and Facebookers.
Mark Horvath, who was once homeless himself, has turned his own media savvy background into a powerful force for change. More than anyone else, he stands at the center of the energy and movement towards harnessing the tools of social media to sharpen America’s focus on homelessness. Using the inspirational Twitter handle of @hardlynormal, Mark is the prolific author and producer of hundreds of videos featuring the faces and voices of people who are homeless, as well as regular blogs and a continuous stream of Tweets.
Last week, Mark visited the Gates Foundation, gave a talk to our Communications Team about social media, and then asked me to stand with him in front of his camera to talk with him about our work here to end family homelessness in the Pacific Northwest. Here’s a link to that interview, along with Mark’s blog on Huffington Post Impact.
Watching Mark at work gives me hope and leaves me optimistic – not only about raising awareness about homelessness among sometimes unlikely audiences, but about the real opportunity we have in front of us to actually end homelessness in communities across our nation.
David Wertheimer is the Deputy Director of the Pacific Northwest Initiative at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, Washington, as well as the Board Chair of Funders Together to End Homelessness. Find him at @DavidWSeattle.
This article originally appeared on the Gates Foundation’s Impatient Optimists Blog.