In 1994, Mark Horvath was living in Los Angeles and had a successful career in the television industry. A year later, thanks to a cocktail of drugs, alcohol, and other bad decisions, he was homeless on Hollywood Boulevard. Little by little, he worked his way back up to making a six-figure salary as director of marketing for a megachurch. He was living in a three-bedroom house and driving a nice car. But then the recession hit. He was laid off, facing foreclosure, and again teetered on the edge of becoming homeless. After 19 months of looking for work, he had run out of money for rent. So as a way to flee his problems, he picked up a camera and hit the road in November 2008.
"I was just sitting on a couch in my apartment, and I thought up the idea to film homeless people partly because I had no idea what else to do," Horvath tells me. "I decided to go to Seattle to visit a tent city I had seen on Oprah. I had no idea if I was going to be able to have funds to come back."
Horvath began recording the stories of homeless people he met in Seattle and livetweeting their conversations. He posted all the videos on invisible.tv, a project he started with $45, a laptop, a camera, and an iPhone. Once he realized he had supporters, he planned a larger road trip a few months later that spanned the country. Its genesis was in catharsis, he says, and to give homeless people a voice they wouldn't normally have. But Horvath was encouraged by how many views the videos got on YouTube. He realized that people actually cared.
Correction: The article says invisible.tv, but it's actually invisiblepeople.tv -- the link in the article is wrong, too.
He also has a YouTube channel: invisiblepeopletv.