Video of Austin homeless experiment reaches millions of viewers
Two Austin men came up with the idea for a video called "The Real Homeless Man Experiment." In the video a homeless man asks for change in two different kinds of clothes.
"People look at homeless people like they're not people," said Joseph Costello, videographer for Quiet Assassins YouTube channel.
Sandy Shook knows that all too well. Shook has been homeless for years because of his struggle with depression.
"Boy, I was just a homeless guy living day to day," said Shook.
Then, Shook met Costello.
"There's been a couple times where I broke down in my car and I asked people for money and well it feels weird and stuff, it's easy to see an automatic shift in the way you're treated to where you're almost being shunned," said Costello.
Costello's experience gave him an idea for a video.
"I suppose it'd be about stereotyping. How a person sees a person in a certain situation and just kind of sums them up," said Shook.
Costello had Shook groomed and then put him in a business suit. Then Shook asked strangers for some change on the street.
"As soon as he got in the suit money just started siphoning in. It was like a magic trick," said Costello.
After a few hours Shook did the same thing, this time in his everyday clothes.
"It was dramatically different, insane different. Going from being noticed and everybody wanting to help to just being shunned completely," said Costello.
The video was posted on YouTube last week. It has already been viewed for than 3 million times.
"I had one person stop their taxi in the middle of the street in the moving lane and say, 'Hey weren't you that guy in that video?' And I'm like,' yeah, I was in that video,'" said Shook.
"I hope Sandy finds a way out of poverty. I hope he finds a way to support himself whether that be financially, emotionally, anything to get him out of the world he's in right now," said Costello.
The last homeless count in Austin in January 2011 revealed there were 2,300 people living on the streets on any given day.
"The problem is supposed to get bigger. I grew up in the 70's in my high school years, early college years, and homeless people were almost nonexistent and now there's just so many. Now I'm one of them," said Shook.
Costello hopes the video will give viewers a different perspective of life on the streets.
"I can only hope so much. That people will treat everybody the same and equal and homeless people better than they have been," said Costello.
Along with the video, Costello posted a GoFundMe donation page (http://www.gofundme.com/cd60bc) for Shook. So far it has raised more than 1,000 dollars. Shook said if he raises enough money he will move back home to Michigan.