Austin organization aims to humanize the city’s homeless

Chad Lyle

People are more likely to help familiar faces than strangers in need, said Kevin Price, who launched Hearing the Homeless to familiarize the city of Austin with its homeless population.

“The idea (for HTH) originally started as a play off of Humans of New York,” Price said.

Humans of New York is a popular photoblog that chronicles the lives of everyday New Yorkers. Similar to HONY, the signature element of HTH are short video interviews of homeless individuals around Austin, which are posted on HTH’s website and social media. Price says another way HTH differentiates itself is by offering a second outlet for audiences to interact with video subjects: by donating.

“If you watch a story about a guy named Charles, you can give directly to Charles,” Price said. “You’ll be able to text ‘HTH’ to 41444 and give directly, but in a way that maximizes those donations because (the recipients) can only use them for targeted needs.”

Price recently partnered with Texas Tower PR, a student-run public relations firm at UT, to increase his organization’s name recognition and social media presence.

Public relations senior Blaire Babyak said she met Price at an art event and immediately brought HTH on as a Texas Tower client. Babyak said she admired Price’s effort because she has also worked with Austin’s homeless community.

“I have an internship with Art from the Streets, where homeless people create art and we sell it for them,” Babyuk said. “(Price) is so passionate, I just fell in love with his mission and I was immediately on board.”

Public relations sophomore Rachel Margolin, who is part of HTH’s team at Texas Tower, said HTH offered her a unique opportunity to work with an engaged client.

“I think it helps when you’re passionate about an organization you’re working with,” Margolin said. “Now (Texas Tower PR) really (has) a chance to connect with an organization and feel passionate about it. I think that helps us work even harder.”

Price said it usually isn’t hard to find people who are willing to share their stories.

“Me and my videographer will walk around, we’ll find someone that seems nice and interesting and I’ll just sit behind the camera and ask them questions,” Price said. “The heart of the program is sharing with people how incredible these people are if only they would stop and ask a question here and there.”