In our society most people would prefer not to interact with the homeless. Many of us judge them to quickly, and label them as derelicts, delinquents, drunks or drug addicts. Most think of them as a nuisance. I was always curious to understand how a person becomes homeless. People walk by them and turn the other way, as if they are invisible ghosts of society. They are not invisible. They shouldn’t be ignored as humans. Everyone has a story. They had a home, family, jobs. Most of them are quite interesting people! I have met an ex-millionaire athlete, stock investors, business owners, you name it; all now homeless. No one should be hungry, lonely or ignored. They are humans but yet no one sees them. I had to make sure society acknowledges that homelessness is everyone’s problem. If we don’t address this issue, it will only get worst. I started to videotape them, to make them visible; in order to give them a voice. They want homes or safe shelter, but the system is broken, so I’m trying to fix it. Ivo and Stella’ stories broke my heart. Tom & Jerry’s uplifted my spirit – I saw them several times and they are always happy and grateful. Jerry’s sister thought he was dead and finding him through my videos, made me realize I can be helpful. Everyone should help as it affects us all, one way or another. The community must get involved. My personal intention is to educate the community, so together, we can raise their spirits, realize they are human beings and respect them, as well as to find a proper way to help them, so they don’t live like garbage on the streets. We also must pay attention to the hard worker that is living pay-check for pay-check, for they are one check away from being homeless… Some cities offer shelters but they don't have enough beds for everyone. The ultimate solution is permanent housing and I hope cities, government, developers and business communities come to realize that, and work together in providing this. This will also save money to the tax payers. But while we wait for this to happen, we must take care of their basic necessities. The homeless are people, not animals! The city of San Francisco understood that and offers them restrooms and showers. That said, the plan is to “humanize” the homeless and perhaps they will have more spirit and willingness to take the 1st step toward getting out of the streets. I call it the Project Humanization: a) offer shower, haircuts, clean clothes to make the homeless look better, on the hope they will feel better and accept the helps the city has to offer, therefore taking them out of the streets; b) Offer public restrooms so they won’t defecate in public or private property, and also this will give them more dignity and respect to their persona, therefore, we hope this will have a positive impact on accepting assistance; How can one think of looking for a job or a home if you have to defecate in public or haven’t even had a shower in a week? Favela Miami was born to help the homeless with all these issues and grow to also offer assistance to the low income and the elderly (to which I have special affection for). It is a work in progress, but I plan to follow models like the city of Albuquerque and San Francisco.
Favela Miami was created to help the homeless to transition from homelessness to permanent housing with dignity and respect, while living on the streets.