It's getting harder to be homeless in the United States. In nearly 43 percent of U.S. cities, you can be arrested for sleeping in your car, sitting on a curb, or begging in certain public areas. Stigmas against the homeless are widespread. In Hawaii, state Sen. Tom Brower smashed homeless people's shopping carts with a sledgehammer.
These policies and practices show a glaring lack of empathy. Yet 1.6 million U.S. citizens live in "transitional housing," and 610,000 people are classified as "homeless," according to the National Coalition for the Homeless. The problem is expected to get worse in 2014.
One project aims to humanize people who sleep on the streets, in their cars, and on the subways. Rethink Homelessness asked homeless people in Orlando to write one surprising fact about themselves on a piece of cardboard. The results were powerful.
"I once had a scholarship to play baseball," one young man wrote. "I have a degree in biology from West Virginia University," reveals another. One woman who used to be a personal trainer held up a faded business flier along with a sign that read, "Believe it or not."
Though no one wants to live on the streets, campaigns like this one show that homelessness can happen to anyone.