Empathy Building Campaign

What we did:

Negative public perception of people experiencing homelessness can be a barrier to effective public investments. Experiences of discrimination and internalized stigma can also contribute to the deterioration of people experiencing homelessness. The empathy building campaign is designed to improve public perception and reduce discrimination and stigma by shifting the public's perception of people experiencing homelessness. We hope to replace these negative stereotypes by demonstrating the potential we all have as humans to become greater than our circumstances. 

The campaign was tested for a month in one CapMetro bus. During that month the iTeam conducted observations on the bus and collected survey responses from passengers. The total cost for the campaign was $114 in printing and advertising costs. 

What we learned:

  • Based on observations, we estimate that almost 2,000 people spent time looking at the placards on the bus.

  • We saw that there is interest in the content and information presented.  

  • Of the respondents almost half indicated that they are more positive in their perception of individuals experiencing homelessness.  

  • Almost 80% of the respondents said the campaign is likely to inform how they donate their time or gifts and 70% indicated that they would be more likely to advocate for people experiencing homelessness. 

  • We did not receive any  negative comments from the public in responses to the campaign.

Final Recommendations: 

The City of Austin has a not in my backyard problem. If the community is going to move the needle on homelessness we need to increase public awareness on the issue and encourage support for projects in the city. This campaign give members of the public actionable suggestions for getting involved and the testing demonstrated that people who see the campaign will be more likely donate and advocate to support people experiencing homelessness.


The City of Austin should that scaling this low-cost campaign and change public perception and get more Austinites to support affordable housing and more services in their neighborhoods. In addition to placards inside the bus, the campaign could reach more people by advertising on the buses and posters could be printed for public facilities and message boards. 


Click the image above to download a high-resolution file of the final campaign placard.