Nearly everywhere we go now in days we see a homeless person sitting on the street. Outside of markets, on freeway exits, bus stops, literally everywhere we go but do you ever offer a lending hand? For most people including myself the answer to that is no. We many times avoid eye contact at any cost and most of the time just give them a “no sorry” before allowing them to even finish a sentence. We live in a society that is superficial and judges nearly everything by its appearance, therefore raising the roof has begun its potential campaign.

Rising the roof is a Canadian organization that hopes to stop homelessness by bring awareness to the matter. Which is why they began their potential campaign. This campaign consisted of multiple ads all showing how we as a society see potential in material objects rather than in a homeless youth. Two of the campaigns ads are shown above. Immediately it becomes obvious to the audience that the ad is intended to connect with your emotions. Raising the roof does a very good job at using pathos in their ads. When you read their choice of words you can’t help but think of how deep the quotes truly are.

In their first ad raising the roof choose to put an old chair along a box of old junk on a curb side with the quote, “you see an abandoned chair on the street and you think; it has the potential to be something beautiful. You see a homeless youth on the street and you think; don’t make eye contact”. The ad is very simple but contains a lot of grey, in fact the only objects that are in color are the objects out on the curb side. The color grey is many times used to associate with sadness. Upon reading this raising the roof’s goal is to make you feel sadness and shame because you yourself are guilty of something similar to the picture they’ve painted.  It makes you wonder do I really care about objects more than helping someone in need? Their second ad doesn’t lower the amount of pathos, it once again paints an emotional scenario to get you thinking this time with a house plant. The ad consists of a dying house plant with the quote “if a plant needs help, you bring it water and hope it blooms. Evidently, it’s better to be a houseplant than a homeless youth”. Once again, they make the simplicity of the photo to appeal with the audience sadness by placing the plant next to old objects that too look like they need love and care. This once again paints the picture to the audience how horrible they must be for helping an object look more appealable over a person.

Raising the roof made sure they were able to connect with every audience member imaginable through pathos. They made sure if for any chance you didn’t see this ad in a magazine or bus stop you would for sure watch it during a television commercial. Raising the roof turned both mentioned ads above into commercials using the same concept of the quote but presented a bit differently. Both commercials still contained the chair and the plant, but this time took you on their journeys toward potential. A chair being reupholstered, a plant being nursed to health, both given a second chance. Throughout the objects journey there is the voice of what appears to be a young woman giving the dictionary definitions of the words potential and promise. This time through their commercial raising the roof pushes pathos even further. At the end of the commercial when the young women read “why not in a homeless youth” there is an image of a young man sitting on the floor in the cold. This young man is dressed in all grey once again a color that is associated with sadness sitting on a cardboard box outside a boarded-up business. The image of this young man is one that you can recall time and time again ignoring. If you are someone whom has children, you can now picture your child being that homeless youth out in the cold. Raising the roof took the ad to a new level by connecting it to an actual human vs. just the material object. If you’re willing to give an object a second chance by not a person? Take a look at the commercials below.

Along with pathos raising the roof uses ethos in their ads. Providing their logo at the bottom of the ad gives the ad some sense of credibility. Beside their logos they add the saying ‘homeless youth have nothing, but potential”. A reader may see this ad and believe that what they are saying is accurate just based on the fact that their organization is supposed to be one of the leaders in ending homelessness. Whether the credibility is false the reader will never know unless they do further research, which in a way is raising the roof’s goal.

Is ending homelessness as simple as lending a helping hand to those on the street? This is what raising the roof wants you to consider. Is this really all it takes to get homeless people off the street and into stable housing? In order to understand how to end homelessness we must first understand what it is. Ideas on how people became homeless are many time based on fallacies such as; “all homeless people are drug addicts, they choose to live on the street, or all homeless people are lazy” (Raising the roof).

The term homeless can be “defined as being unsheltered, or living in an emergency shelter, transitional housing unit, or ‘doubled-up’ with friends or family” (O’Toole 447). Research shows that “the most commonly reported reasons for homelessness were economic: 186 (80.9%) cited no job, 177 (77.0%) cited no money, and 152 (66.1%) cited drug and/or alcohol use. Family crises and mental health were reported by 71 (30.9%) and 58 (25.2%)” (O’Toole 450). Homelessness can affect anyone at any age or of any ethnicities. Because this ad is based in Canada we will look at homeless rates in Canada although we have a great amount of homeless cases domestically. Canada conducts a homeless count every 18 month according to Windspeaker but not all of Canada’s largest cities wish to participate or participate in the needed time frame. But of the reports that they do have from 2014, 6,663 people were reported homeless by the count in seven Canadian cities (Windspeaker 16). That is a minimal number compared to the homeless count conducted in the United States. In 1984, 3,000 people were report in the city of Chicago alone (Wright). The number of houseless people today in United States cities is estimated to be much larger.

So, we ask ourselves how can we lend a helping hand to this population? If money is not an option how about giving resources? Many times, people whom become homeless do not know where they should first go when they initially become homeless which may result in long term homelessness. The first step to helping the population is to know where help is available.  Homeless drop in centers, social service agencies, public housing offices are among the places where people can get help however only between 13-20% of homeless people reported using these facilities (O’Toole 449). If we could help a homeless person find stable housing their entire life could change. Think about it a person whom is suffering from long term homelessness does not have the most appealing appearance making it hard for them to get any sort of job that will allow them to get stable housing. In other cases where they are lucky enough to get an interview some employers will not hire you without a physical address. How can we expect them to get out of their situation alone?

Ignorance towards the topic of homeless is never the answer which is why we must educate. This is what raising the roof is doing with their ads. They are putting the topic out there to get your mind thinking how someone’s life may be different with a little bit of help. In conclusion it appears that raising the roof’s pathos approach does make people think and act towards homeless people differently. Although they focus on homeless youth people change their perspective towards homeless in general. They begin to educate themselves on the fallacies’ surrounding homelessness to realize that those people are also human beings. Raising the roof may or may not be as creditable as they may present themselves but at the end of the day they are getting their point across and hopefully ending hopelessness all together. The United States could definitely benefit from a similar campaign since we lack empathy. Check out this social experiment on how different people in the US treat the homeless vs how in turn people in Canada treats theirs.


Annotated Bibliography

“7 Cities to Count Homeless Twice in 18-Month Period.” Windspeaker, vol. 34, no. 8, 15 July 2016, p. 16. EBSCOhost,

              This article talks about a homeless count that is conducted in Canada to estimate the number of homeless people they have in their nation. This article is going to help my paper by showing a comparison between cases of homeless people in Canada and the United States. This will be part of my conclusion is determining wither raising the roof campaign helped in reducing the number of homeless people.

O’Toole, Thomas P., et al. “Where Do People Go When They First Become Homeless? A Survey of Homeless Adults in the USA.” Health & Social Care in the Community, vol. 15, no. 5, Sept. 2007, pp. 446-453. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1111/j.1365-2524.2007.00703.x.

               This article is about a survey conducted to understand where people first go after becoming homeless. This article will clarify what homelessness truly is and understand what population is most likely to be affected. This article also gives locations where homeless people can go to get help.

Raising the Roof’.“Homeless Youth have nothing but Potential” Burnett. February 2011.

                Raising the roof has created this ad that is the foundation of my analysis. I will use the ad (photos) as well and a video also posted by raising the roof has posted that is closely related to the ad itself. The ad will be my thesis for the analysis. Allowing me to analyze it and support the ads purpose through research.

Links to commercial ads:

Wright, James D. and Joel A. Devine. “Housing Dynamics of the Homeless: Implications of a Count.” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, vol. 65, no. 3, July 1995, p. 320. EBSCOhost,

                This article talks about homeless count in the United States especially in two cities. This article is going to help my paper by showing a comparison between cases of homeless people in Canada and the United States. This will be part of my conclusion is determining wither raising the roof campaign helped in reducing the number of homeless people.

Social experiment link:

Street house link: