"If home is where the heart is," one homeless woman reads in a tweet, "are homeless people heartless?" Tears visibly form in her eyes as she responds, "Far from it."
Raising the Roof of Canada, an organization that aims to eliminate homelessness, filmed people without homes reading some of the most terrible comments written about them on social media, ranging from remarks about how they smell to dehumanizing insults.
It's a startling, upsetting visual that not only humanizes homelessness, but also shows the damage someone can do in 140 characters.
There's really no way to explain just how vicious the comments are, but they're bad enough to reduce the readers to tears and sobs by the end of the video.
Beyond reinforcing the idea that people should think twice about what they post online, the video campaign shows some of the biggest misconceptions about homelessness, which afflicted roughly 610,000 Americans in one night of 2013.
For one, folks without a home aren't lazy menaces who want to take advantage of others for change; many have jobs but are just dealing with bad economic straits. A 1996 Urban Institute survey, one of the most comprehensive studies on the topic to date, found about 44 percent of homeless people around the US did some paid work during the previous month. A 2013 US Department of Housing and Urban Development study found that 17 percent of homeless adults in families had paying jobs and 55 percent had worked during the previous year.
Giving housing to the homeless also doesn't have to be a strain on society. Last year, the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness found it cost $10,000 per year to house someone in the region, compared with the $31,000 price tag of law enforcement, jails, hospitals, and other community services needed to oversee homelessness.
Aside from policy, the video is a reminder that one way we could start helping the homeless is by simply treating them like fellow human beings — and not using them as a punchline for very ugly jokes on Twitter.
For more, read 11 myths about homelessness in America.