HOUSTON, TX - Movie directors are always looking to make things more real for the viewer, whether it's aliens or special effects. But what about homelessness? Over three million Americans are homeless right now and 4000 live in Houston's downtown area alone.
Film director Jacquelyn Aluotto made a documentary on the subject called "The Nimby Experience" (FYI: NIMBY is short for 'Not in my back yard'). It features film and TV actor Luis Guzman.
"Luis went undercover and he lived homeless for 72 hours on the streets of New York City," says Aluotto, "to really show what it was like to be homeless in America." Aluotto did a screening Wednesday at the downtown library specifically for Houston homeless folks. She wanted to see if what she captured rang true with their experiences of living on the streets.
Pretty quickly in the documentary, Guzman realizes as a street person, you become invisible. "You're a nobody. You're the guy that nobody wants to look at," he says in the film, "This is not the life, and I wouldn't wish this on anybody... for real."
"I know what he went through," says Eddie Charles Menefee, who says he's lived on the streets off and on for 11 years. "It's hell out there on the streets! Really it is. And the shelters are doing all the can do, and that's all they can do."
William Colpitts has been homeless ever since leaving prison in 2013. "It's hard because people don't care anymore," he says, tearing forming in his eyes. "It just seems like everybody's heart is turning cold."
John Bryant:says nothing hurts like being ignored, "A smile or a wave goes a long way."
Aluotto says she hopes her film will shed some light on the war on poverty and get us all to do something about it.
Self-proclaimed homeless 'apostle' Amariah Elijah Israel says the street folks she comes into contact with have forgotten God, "If you've done it to the least of them, you've done it unto Me," she quotes, urging, "if it's in your power to do good, do good."
Joseph Bowman, Sr. calls the streets "unforgiving." He offers this basic advice when it comes to folks living on the streets: "Really be your neighbor's brother....because nothing's easy out there."