The Concrete Tribe project focuses on giving voice to homeless people, and helping them tell their stories, with the hope that others will be motivated into action that offers them opportunity and hope.

The project launched after Rob captured the image to the left and posted it on social media. The image caught the attention of an individual who wanted to help, and through their generosity the Nova Vox team was able to go purchase several hundred dollars worth of cold-weather sleeping bags. Those sleeping bags were passed out on a cold night in Indianapolis.

Future plans for the Concrete Tribe project include distribution of more sleeping bags, as well as other much needed items such as hats, gloves, and socks, hopefully with the help of inspired and motivated volunteers who will take the lead in getting out on the streets and offering helping hands to those who need them.

One of the individuals the Nova Vox team met the night we passed out sleeping bags was Ricky. Ricky was genuinely friendly, happy to be noticed and to spend a little bit of time with us, and to be recognized as the human being he is. Unfortunately, Ricky's situation seems all to common among the homeless community. You can read more about our experience with him here.

Homelessness as an issue isn't something that most people are unaware of; in urban areas especially, encounters with the homeless are just another part of daily life for many people. What is rarer is the acknowledgement of homelessness in smaller cities and towns, and especially in rural areas. As the Nova Vox team continues to explore the issue of homelessness we plan to explore rural homelessness in particular, and to help raise awareness of a specific facet of a societal issue that seems to go unnoticed in discussion of the larger topic.

According to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, on any given night in 2016 more than 500,000 people experienced homelessness; other estimates claim more than 700,000 people classify as homeless in the US. While many people are able to find temporary accommodation in a shelter or mission (whose resources are often stretched thin), various reports claim that there are millions of empty homes in America, meaning that there's little reason for anyone in the US to go without at least some kind of shelter.

Homeless people are just that--people. They come from all walks of life. The causes of homelessness are varied, including unemployment, drug use, domestic abuse, mental illness, and more. The paths out of homelessness are difficult, and most homeless people rely on charity just to survive. It's true that some people, no matter what kind of help they're offered won't be able to change the things in their lives that led them into homelessness--and some simply don't want to--but there are many people who, given the opportunity, would work to improve their situation and better themselves. The trouble is that many people who encounter homelessness on a regular basis are desensitized to it, and seem to forget that the homeless are people too. While charity and humanitarian efforts such as soup kitchens, missions, shelters, and clothing donations are useful and can provide stepping stones for homeless people to make their way off the streets and into a home, what many of them really need is opportunity: the opportunity to work, to provide for themselves, to free themselves from addictions, to get help with mental illness, and other factors that cause homelessness.



Getting Involved

The Nova Vox mission is that of creating and raising awareness of issues, and we're happy to find ways for individuals or agencies to get involved with us in that way, or to find ways to utilize our resources to raise awareness of the work they're already doing. And of course, we're happy to get out on the streets with those that want to help. As we develop plans to get out and interact with homeless people and populations, we'll post information and calls to action on our social media pages with information on how people can help or be involved. Ultimately, our hope is that people will be inspired by the humanity of the people we're featuring in our photos and videos, and motivated into action on their own, and finding and creating ways to offer opportunity and hope to homeless individuals.

Resources

Homelessness as an issue is vast and varied, and unfortunately large in its scope and scale. While the Nova Vox team is happy to help educate others on the multitude of issues surrounding homelessness, we ourselves are still learning, and believe it would be better to direct people interested in taking action to learn more by visiting any of the numerous agencies and resources already available. While the resources below are US-centric (as the work of Nova Vox currently is), and focused on homelessness on a national level, many of them can help you locate local resources.

The US Department of Health & Human Services site has several resources and links to various agencies working to address the US homelessness problem. Many agencies and organizations that work with the homeless have volunteer resources, as well as ways to support them and be involved otherwise. The USICH website has several information resources for those wanting to know more about US homelessness in general, including statistical breakdowns of homeless populations.


-All photos by Rob Salem. Copyright © 2017 Rob Salem/The Stormworks. For use or exhibit, please contact us.-