Raising the Roof drives home the plight of the homeless
May 30, 2012 | Chris Powell | Comments
Not listed on the official Doors Open itinerary was a small dwelling wedged between two buildings on King Street in the city’s downtown core. Made entirely of cardboard, and with no running water or electricity, The Street House was created by Leo Burnett’s Toronto office in order to raise awareness of Canada’s homelessness crisis.
The installation was created for Raising the Roof, a national non-profit organization dedicated to fighting homelessness.
While it resembled a regular home from the outside – albeit one made of cardboard – the inside of The Street House alerted visitors to the harsh reality of being homeless. Signs affixed to walls featured messages like “You need money to buy stuff. Stuff like food. Now imagine you’re homeless and don’t have any money. How will you earn cash?”
“We were hoping that as people were going to see Doors Open they would also see our street house installation and really get them to think about the issue of homelessness in a different way,” said Carolann Barr, executive director of Raising the Roof in Toronto. “It was a very informative, powerful installation, but still gritty and raw.”
More than 2,000 people passed through the installation said Barr, while it also received considerable attention from local media outlets including the CBC and MSN.ca.
Leo Burnett has worked on two previous initiatives for Raising the Roof, including last year’s multimedia campaign, “Homeless youth have nothing but potential” and a series of PSAs for its annual toque campaign.
While Raising the Roof is dedicated to raising awareness of the plight of Canada’s estimated 200,000 homeless people, the organization has emphasized the plight of out-of-home youth in recent years through its Youthworks program. It is estimated that there are as many as 65,000 homeless youth in Canada at any time.
“Homelessness in Canada is a real crisis,” said Barr. “We know that poverty and a lack of affordable housing are the leading causes of this tragedy, and [initiatives like The Street House] are really designed to get the public’s support so they can be more engaged in supporting the homeless and rediscovering how they might understand the issue.”