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Locally made “Cardboard Stories” homelessness video goes viral

July 22, 2014

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If you haven’t already seen it, you really should watch the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness’ new video series, branded #RethinkHomelessness. Here’s the one that’s been making the rounds on social media. It’s called “Cardboard Stories,” and it features images of homeless people from around Orlando who were asked to write a message on a piece of cardboard to share with the world. The things they reveal about themselves are breathtaking – watch for the woman who says she gave up her children so they wouldn’t have to grow up homeless, and the man who holds a sign saying he’s recovering from open-heart surgery, then reveals the scars on his chest to the camera. Also, the guy whose sign says “I’ve built robots.”


One of the things we love about these videos is that they challenge people’s preconceived notions of who the homeless in our community are, or why they may have become homeless, or that they don’t do anything to try to improve their situations.

“We need to change the way people look at homelessness if we are going to find solutions for those in need,” Andrae Bailey, CEO of the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness, which made the videos, wrote in an emailed message to local media this week. “The homeless are people, just like you and I, that were usually impacted by some sort of tragedy.”

When we first saw the videos, posted simply as a project called Rethink Homelessness, we had no idea they’d been produced by the commission, which has been addressing homelessness in Central Florida for as long as we can remember. But the commission, like a lot of nonprofit service organizations, is changing its approach – rather than trying to address the local homelessness problem simply by putting Band-Aids on it, it’s trying to engage the community and challenge people to take an interest in the homeless.

The Commission says it plans to use the Rethink Homelessness videos as a “launch pad” for its new programs and initiatives to get homeless individuals into homes of their own. In other words, the Commission isn’t just rethinking homelessness – it’s rethinking advocacy for the homeless. We look forward to seeing more.

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  • Jℴƽђúå Ç. Jℴђŋƽℴŋ

    Thank you for sharing our work, and more importantly, sharing the stories of our homeless neighbors. They deserve to be told.

  • Charles Allen

    I spent 7 years living under a bridge at Colonial and Amelia. My favorite places were Parramore and Livingston because the crack was easy to find and purchase. I was homeless because crack cocaine was the most important thing in the world to me. Others are homeless because they are lazy. Most of these homeless are either crackheads or lazy and will rob you blind. BTW, I own a business, am married and have 3 children now. This isn’t because someone helped me for being homeless it’s because I got off my lazy ass and quit smoking crack. I’d conservatively say that more than 50% of the homeless (and I know most of them personally!) are lazy, ignorant, criminal crack heads and will remain so no matter what you do. If you are homeless in America, then you are empty in the head…..

  • Charles Allen

    Read my comment

  • Jℴƽђúå Ç. Jℴђŋƽℴŋ

    @disqus_rBpOfyDsmb:disqus I invite you to share the actual data behind your statements. The reality is that a significant portion of those “lazy, ignorant, criminal crack heads” are suffering from undiagnosed and/or untreated mental health issues. I applaud you for being able to get back on your without the help of a single individual or organization, but you are describing the exception rather than the rule. As Americans, we tend to have the attitude of “if I did it, you can too.” Unfortunately, we are often comparing our apples to someone else’s oranges. There are a great number of circumstances well beyond our control. When they take a bad turn, sometimes we can recover on our own and sometimes we can’t. Rather than casting stereotypical judgement on those that need help, let’s show some compassion.

  • carmatogo

    Waiting for someone to assume all these people are drug addicts…wait Charles Allen already did that.

  • Mike

    The guy who has a degree in Biology should’ve known better when picking his degree. Too many bio majors with no jobs because you cant do anything with it without further education like a PhD. People if your gonna drop 20-100k on a college education please pick a major that has a job market for people with BS/BA not MS or PhD. That and all the art majors, you are shooting yourself in the foot before you take your first step in the professional world.

  • Andrew Clark

    Think about this brother. If what you say is true, that means a whole bunch of these people aren’t ignorant criminal crackheads. Why don’t we help them?

  • Charles Allen

    “Assume”?? Apparently you failed to read the part where I told you all that I know most of these people personally (at least up until 3 years ago) and I can assure you they aren’t poor helpless people who fell on bad luck, They are predators and will prey upon any one hapless enough to fall for their BS. I lived on the worst streets in Orlando for 10 years and I saw it all… If these people wanted help, they’d get it. Period. The only person who can help you is you.

  • carmatogo

    Save it because I’m not buying it. You were homeless for 10 years because of drugs…yet you have zero empathy for homeless individuals??? And no, you did not say you knew any of those individuals personally in your originally post. Nice try. I may be a stranger on the world wide web…but I’m not a jackass. You are the predator preying on HELPLESS by hiding being the safety and anonymity of the internet. Started from the bottom, now you’re here…hahaha! What a joke.

  • Charles Allen

    It was precisely your mentality that allowed me and the other scumbags you feel so much empathy for the opportunity to take advantage of and rob you. Hey, don’t let me burst your bubble–there are plenty of scumbags who just love dumb asses like you–so you keep right on feeling for them. I have no empathy for the scumbags on the street or for the dumb asses who feel for them. Obviously your life isn’t fulfilling or satisfying otherwise you wouldn’t need to champion the cause you have picked up on… Sorry for your luck….

  • Charles Allen

    And PS– it specifically says in my original post in parenthesis “and I know most of them personally”,,, So, apparently you are to stupid to see and comprehend the written word…

  • Charles Allen

    Joshua your post is intelligently authored and I understand your thought processes in this instance. I commend you for your compassion. I just wanted to let you know that while some of these people may have arrived at their position in life through bad luck or whatever–a significant number are, as I stated, lazy, ignorant scumbags who will lie, cheat and steal you blind for that next hit of crack…. Having lived that life for so long, I unfortunately am qualified as an expert….

  • Jℴƽђúå Ç. Jℴђŋƽℴŋ

    I appreciate the rebuttal and you sharing your experience. At the end of the day, the dialog needs to open up if we are going to work towards meaningful solutions to help people get off of the streets and into homes. Honestly, if someone has an addiction, I don’t believe that means they deserve help any less. Addiction is an illness and it is often brought on by events and circumstances beyond ones control.

    One of the people in this video – and this is verified, but I will not identify them until they are ready to publicly share this story – lost their mother (and only familial supporter) during early teen years as she was incarcerated. This person, while living at the shelter, continued to attend high school until they fell in with the wrong crowd. They tried to keep things straight, but eventually addiction set in. I can’t blame them. That is a terrible hand to be dealt. I can’t honestly say that I wouldn’t have turned to substances to ease my pains had that been me.

    So I say, look past the addiction, but there is almost always a painful story behind it – and one that they often won’t share. Sometimes because it hurts so bad, and others because they were never able to piece it together or due to mental disabilities are not able to understand.

  • Rain

    So your saying that in 3 years You personally have ,
    1. Become clean.
    2. Opened your own company.
    3. Got married and now have 3 children?
    Now going back to your original post you state your married with 3 children and a business owner, yet in. this statement you say you knew most of the homeless people up to 3 YEARS AGO!
    Sir either you are superman or God placed you where you are now so, whichever is the truth just try to have some compassion! Because for all YOU have now could be lost tomorrow.

  • Sarah

    That’s funny, because in one of your posts on another thread (among all your others in which you put down liberal “pigs” and religion), you claimed to have 6 children and 18 grandchildren. It’s a little sad that you have to take what is a nice, thought provoking story and inject poison into people’s minds for fun. Leave it be.

  • Charles Allen

    You are absolutely correct on all 3 counts. I moved from under the bridge eating out of a hubcap in Orlando to Loganville Ga in 2011 where in the past three years I have remarried my ex wife of 17 years, opened my own electrical and electronics business, and am raising and have legal custody of 3 of my grandchildren, ages 16 months, 3 years and 9 years old. Things are great and life is good. I have to mention here that “compassion” or other such niceties did not play a role in pulling myself away from the madness, but rather occurred simply because I woke up one day and decided enough already. And that was that….

  • carmatogo

    Thank you!!! That is exactly what I’m saying. I’m calling bs. He is the same scumbag he is berating.

  • Charles Allen

    Sarah, have you been smoking crack?

  • carmatogo

    You resent these people because you see so much of yourself in them. IF what you are saying is true, what you are doing is called projection. The only way you can feel good about yourself is to put that part of yourself, which you identify in these homeless people, below you. You are not harming anyone by being a pig on the internet, but it makes you feel better about yourself. Some people choose to advocate for those when they have walked in their shoes. You, my friend, have a superiority complex “an attitude of superiority that conceals actual feelings of inferiority and failure”, hence the projection.

    I’m working on my Masters in counseling, and IF what you saying is true, you ooz the stench of someone projecting their insecurities onto others more helpless then themselves. As counselors we are told to “know thyself”. I’m a random person on the internet, and obviously I hit a nerve with you. This I have an opinion based on feelings, you may have an opinion based on experience. But you are a hypocrite. How can you possibly feel good saying that you “pulled yourself up from the maddness” but easily dismiss the idea that others can do the same thing?? You hate is full of passion.

  • hobo batman

    You are an ignorant fool. You look at homeless people as off they are what you were. Obviously you haven’t been around America and have only seen the homeless in your surrounding area. There are plenty of homeless people that will give you the shirt off there back if you need it out are cold. I am a traveler, I hitch hike and hop freight trains. I weave Palm for money, and I sleep outdoors. I’m not homeless, where I lay my head is home. I’m houseless. Take your head out off your but. Thank you.

  • C

    How about instead of sharing one random fact you actually say that “story” of how they became homeless?

  • Carina

    Good for you. I believe you. God helps people who help themselves. I believe we need to be there to help but I am also realistic enough to know that many don’t really want the help. Do you know how many times I have read the sign “will work for money/food” and I have tried to either give them a job or food only to be laughed off? In my life, two people have actually taken the food- a poor woman in Mexico City with a child (leftover pizza) and two guys in New Orleans who ate half of sandwich and the remaining part of my soda. I know two people that are homeless that continue to choose the lifestyle that does not move them ahead; neither is a crack addict or have a mental disability. They really choose not to get a job or live on the “grid”. I support Habitat for Humanity because they have to help build the house they get vs. just giving it without having a vested interest. I found the video interesting but there is more to each of those stories. I am all for helping people when they are also choosing to help themselves.

  • Charles Allen

    You will be holding a sign that says “I have a Masters in Counseling” right alongside the Biologist and Figure Skater. At that time you can access what your Master Ovomit will entitle you to….

  • Charles Allen

    If you enjoy where you are at more power to you. I’ll reiterate my previous statement for you: If you are homeless in America, you either want to be there or you are a completely worthless POS…

  • Charles Allen

    Great post Carina! It is refreshing to find someone with an intelligent and compassionate outlook on this subject. I am not unreasonable, but I am realistic. I will help anyone as long as I see they want the help and will put as much effort and heart into receiving it as I would giving it. Sadly, most won’t. There was a time that I would have scoffed at food or a place to live or work, only wanting to live the insanity which I called life at that time. Thanks for your encouraging words and may your life be blessed!

  • worthlessPOS

    gotta give it to ya chuck. you made me chuckle. i love extremists.

  • Justanothermonkeyman

    I’m sorry if you have a BS degree you can find a job. After college (in 2009 the WORST time to graduate) I cycled through working 4 part time jobs between a restaurant, the census (temp), a contractor doing roofing and sandblasting, and delivering things. You have to try with all your might when the world knocks you down. I work in San Francisco now far from home, which has an incredibly diverse and dense homeless population. I got off transit the other night when I saw a woman holding a cardboard sign that said she was starving. I gave her my leftover pizza and she threw it on the ground and told me “I don’t need this, I need a roof over my head!”. I give my change every day to the same legless homeless man every day. In San Francisco, I have been able to observe all types of homeless people from the ones that hang out by the docks and will rob you blind, cheat, borrow or steal just so they don’t have to work, the mentally disturbed and challenged, the dug addicts, people who hate “the system” and don’t want to work, and even people who think its “cool” to be homeless. You cant group them together… some of the best people are homeless and some of the worst people are homeless.

  • CaneRVa

    Look, I cooked, washed dishes, worked fast food, worked retail, did some tree work, delivered pizzas and worked in a deli. Been there, done that. Even the most menial jobs ARE there. The truly physically and mentally disabled aside, most of these people have made really bad choices in life.

  • Noelle Rose


  • Michael Barton

    Thank you for making responsible people feel bad for the mistakes of others. Granted, studies have shown that pan handling pays well, so as long as they’re smart, they won’t be homeless for very long. But thank you for making me feel bad for something that isn’t in my control, nor is it my responsibility.

  • Teach

    You sound bipolar to me. Then again if you are not, you have your business because of what is called w-privilege. How else did you get your capital??? uhmm

  • Teach

    Ok, now I see How you did it…but the bipolar and w-privilege are still and/or appear to be major factors in your horrible attitude and your ability to get a business.

  • aryan

    white privilege for the win uhmm

  • Jℴƽђúå Ç. Jℴђŋƽℴŋ

    We will be posting another video in the near future that tackles the idea that they “just need to get a job.” The truth is, there are plenty of people that are unemployed and have homes. Don’t you think that the process of job hunting would be even more challenging? If not, I would encourage you to attempt applying for jobs without an address. Even if you are cleaned up, the lack of an address is a red flag for many employers.

  • Jℴƽђúå Ç. Jℴђŋƽℴŋ

    We will have to agree to disagree. I am firm believer that we can help others. Do they have to be willing participants, yes. Do they always start out that way, no.

  • Jℴƽђúå Ç. Jℴђŋƽℴŋ

    Are we not also called to care for each other? I think it is great that @disqus_rBpOfyDsmb:disqus was able to pull his entire life together without any help from any person, but the truth is, that represents the exception, not the rule. MOST of us (myself included), homeless or otherwise, need help at some point in our lives. In fact, I can’t honestly say that I know anyone who has gone through their life never having relied on anyone. Feral children aside.

  • Jℴƽђúå Ç. Jℴђŋƽℴŋ

    Often times people end up out there because of series of circumstances, some of which are beyond their control. The purpose was not to make you feel bad, but rather show you that you more than likely have something in common with them.

  • Charles Allen

    Teach, if by “w-privilege” you mean having a brain that registers an IQ with 3 digits and gumption, you are absolutely correct.. Unlike blacks and other mud races, I don’t sit around on my lazy ass stealing or begging off the rest of the world. I wouldn’t piss on one of you MF’s if you were on fire. I’d rather live with maggots and cockroaches, which at least have the ability to fend for themselves rather than preying on their betters… I am just dying for the day one or more of you filthy animals show up on my property so I can bury ya… Freaking animals…

  • Charles Allen

    I got my business capital by working my ass off for 12 months and saving my money instead of spending it on drugs, whores and helping stupid ass scumbags who can’t or won’t help themselves. You are just jealous because you were obviously born looking like a baboon (that means black), which means you were born stupid, ugly and lazy. Go fuck yourself asshole.

  • Charles Allen

    Don’t feel bad, these people are worthless scum that suckle off the rest of the world–and these dumb ass bleeding heart libtards are just too stupid to have any kind of life other than championing the causes of worthless scum. The only responsibility I feel to help rid the world of these POS…

  • Robert S. Henderson

    Great for you for quitting your cocaine addiction.. Great turnaround.. Appreciate where you were to where you are now my man

  • Michael Barton

    I don’t hate them. I just think supporting homeless people is a lost cause. They’re homeless for a reason. If you want to bankrupt yourself helping them, by all means, do so. But please do not use any of my money (through taxes) to help them.

  • Charles Allen

    Thank you, I have been blessed…

  • Robert S. Henderson


  • h

    holy shit, two people firmly but respectfully disagreeing on the internet.

  • Carina

    I agree but I believe one must first want the help and not everyone does. As I stated, I have offered help and many choose not to take it or only take it on their terms (hand them money not really take the job). We all count on each other at one time or another but I know that when I want it or work hard for it, the outcome is much more fulfilling. Teach the man to fish; don’t just give him the fish.

  • Guest

    These are stunning stories. Thank you @disqus_pjiolsStsn:disqus for your compassionate and focused dedication. People like you catalyze the change that make our community – our world – a better, kinder, healthier place for all of us.

  • DianeCourt

    These are stunning stories. Thank you Joshua for your compassionate and focused dedication. People like you catalyze the change that make our community – our world – a better, kinder, healthier place for all of us.

  • Malinda Wilson Smith

    You were one of them once, and what you are saying wasn’t true for you, you got out. Nobody is suggesting giving them a key to your house, just give them an opportunity to do better. If they take it, fine. If they don’t, their bad.

  • christine Anderson

    There are real live people who suffer tragedy … I have had the opportunity to meet someone who I gave a hand up.. not a handout and he has given back so much more than I could have ever imagined… I have gained a friend and he has gained his self worth and is now fighting for his future.. It is Bryan’s story and he is truly AMAZING! It could happen to any of us!

  • Dana

    I think one more thing you need to do for yourself is go get some therapy for the extreme amount of self-hate you appear to still be suffering. Also, it’s been my admittedly limited experience that crack turns people into a**holes. You certainly seem to be bearing that out. Give yourself some more time to detox and then try again.

    Seriously. Just because you’ve been there doesn’t give you any right to be cruel to anyone else.

  • Dana

    Charles wasn’t being all that respectful. But I guess it’s OK if he’s only insulting the lowest of the low.

  • Dana

    It’s hard to tell, as hateful as you still are.

  • Dana

    There’s a lot more biochemical stuff going on behind the scenes with addiction than people had previously believed. I had my genes run through Ancestry DNA for family tree purposes (found a second cousin that way, yeah!), and then went and ran the raw data through Promethease, and my father’s alcoholism has now been quite thoroughly explained, as far as I’m concerned. I seem to have inherited genes that help me to process alcohol faster, and they also lead to a greater risk of cirrhosis and liver cancer if I do take up habitual drinking. Thankfully, I never did. I had a few stupid party moments in my early twenties and that was it. People don’t realize how easy it is to be caught or to destroy your health.

    And the fact is that we have yet to prove the existence of a soul and even if we have one, it’s wholly subject to what the body decides to do; just ask anyone who’s ever had a brain injury that completely changed their personality. So for all intents and purposes we ARE our bodies, and if our bodies “decide” to be stupid, we are just along for the ride. Either you break loose or you don’t, but if you don’t, it’s not because you’re a bad person. any more than you would be if you succumbed to smallpox.

  • Charles Allen

    Dear Dana: I hate to be the bearer of the bad news, but life is “cruel”… And yes, I have the right to be cruel or any other expression I might have toward a given subject as last I checked I woke up in America. I realize the communist liberals and other scum inhabiting this country would have it be otherwise, but it ain’t a gonna happen like that. If I see a dog in my yard, I am not going to run out and tell all my neighbors that there is a zebra in my yard. No, I will tell the world there is a dog in my yard, no matter how bad they or myself wish it was a zebra. Wish in one hand and shit in the other and see which one fills up first….

  • George. gee

    Give a man a fish, you feeds him for a day. Teach him to fish you feed him for life

  • Susan Mason

    I have been homeless myself…and it always amazed me that even the homeless are often conditioned to blame themselves for their own homelessness. It never occurs to most people…even the homeless themselves, to blame the system…instead of blaming their homelessness on their own perceived shortcomings. I am calling them perceived shortcomings, because society,, or the system, or the status quo, or whatever you want to call it…does have a strong tendency to blame the victims of a bad system for the conditions that the bad system, itself is the real cause of. If more people understood who and what the real enemy of humanity is, and who and what is the true cause of these conditions in society..then homelessness, hunger, and poverty would end.

  • Jℴƽђúå Ç. Jℴђŋƽℴŋ

    Thank you for your kind words, @DianeCourt:disqus!

  • Fritz Baumler

    I have a degee I. Economics and I drive a truck. Beats the hell out of holding up a sign asking people to feel sorry for me.

  • ShutyourfaceCharles

    “I have six children and 18 grandchildren none of whom are or will ever
    be brainless, spineless POS’s like you my ignorant “good buddy”. And by
    the way, I forgot it is people like you and yours who love same sex
    encounters and marriages, so waking up with a big penis in your face,
    even one on a dog, probably excites the piss outta ya huh?!?”

    A small post taken from your chat history. Suddenly, you’ve now only got 3 children. You’re full of shit and your BS means nothing to anyone. You’re what we like to call a pathological liar and a habitual fucktard. You’re a delusional old man that might as well still be under a bridge smoking crack, if you ever lived that life in the first place. Be gone, no one wants to hear your lies any longer.

    Seriously, who needs to make shit up to “prove” (falsely ‘prove’) a point? Right, 12 years olds caught masturbating – and cardboard men with no position worth taking, no stance worth fighting for, no voice worth listening to, and no integrity. You sir are a fraud, will only ever be a fraud, and you should retreat back into the fucked up hole you came from. Oh, and reading through your posts; You have no clue what being an anti-theist is about, you’re not an atheist – you’re just angry because your life sucks. Stop pushing your personal BS and disappear. Acting like you speak for anyone but your addictions is a laugh.

  • Charles Allen

    Hey you fucking moron the “3” children are the number I still have at home and am currently raising. Learn to read you stupid cocksucker!