Behind the Sign Challenge

One way toward ending homelessness
is to eradicate ignorance

Nominate Someone to take the 
​Behind the Sign Challenge Someone

Print and Challenge Friends and Family 

Why We Don’t See

Homeless people go unseen everyday, as passersby ignore their existence on sidewalks, in parks, in subway stations. But perhaps people's most perplexing moment of disregard occurs when homeless people ask them for help. Requests like “Spare change?” “Got a dollar? and “Please help” overwhelmingly fall on deaf ears and diverted eyes.

“Panhandling sucks. It’s just hard. You have to take so much rejection,” said Paul Boden, who was once homeless for several years, and is now the organizing director for the Western Regional Advocacy Project, which works to expose and eliminate the root causes of poverty and homelessness.

“An overwhelming majority of people that walk past panhandlers ignore them or say something rude or look at them like they’re scum. And then you get a couple people that feel empathy to it and give. And then you get other people that, at the very least, look them in the eye and say, ‘Sorry, dude I can’t do it today.’”

One of the obvious reasons people react differently to panhandlers is their varying perceptions of homeless people.  “People have these attitudes — that they’re lazy, that they deserve what they get, they haven’t worked hard, they’re just looking for a handout. … and people with these attitudes lack compassion,” said Paul Toro, a psychology professor at Wayne State University who studies the public’s perception of poverty and homelessness.
  1.  Look for a homeless person holding a cardboard sign
  2.  Ask them to, write on the piece of cardboard one fact about  themselves that people wouldn't know just by looking at them as they  walk by. 
  3. Take a picture of them holding the cardboard sign. 
  4. Email or post your photo 

Email Photo      Post Photo        Donate

 5. Nominate friends and family to take the Challenge

​  Help change the stigma of homelessness

and criminalization against homeless people!