The social stigma surrounding people experiencing homelessness is perpetuated by the single narrative that is used to categorize their existence and deny that they are fully human; they are seen as second-class citizens who are less worthy of equal rights and opportunities. Discrimination on the basis of housing conditions is manifested in injustices such as denying people the right to vote, buy insurance, be eligible for certain assistance programs, obtain jobs, and apply for housing.
In Fremont, California, the stigma against homelessness has led to the blatant dehumanization of the unsheltered community and raging protests against the construction of the Housing Navigation Center. Outreach done by the city finds that the top concerns for the construction of the Housing Navigation Center are increased criminal activity, the influence of alcohol abuse, and the safety of children. The narrative that people experiencing homelessness are criminals, alcoholics, mentally ill, dangerous, and abnormal is inaccurate and unjust; people experiencing homelessness are just as complex, dignified, important, and human as those who live in houses.
The appearances, causes, and living conditions of people experiencing homelessness are so incredibly diverse that stereotypes and stigma render many invisible. In this project, we invite both housed and unhoused people to express themselves in front of the camera in a manner in which they want to be seen by the public. Housing status does not define a person; each individual has such rich human experiences, such powerful stories that can no doubt reach the depths of our shared humanity.