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Diane Nilan Tells Homeless Stories Coast To Coast, Aims To Raise Visibility

First Posted: 03/18/10 06:12 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 03:45 PM ET

Homeless Child

We've all read the disturbing statistics in the last few weeks. Over three million homeless people in America at any given time, including 1.5 million children. Six million seniors don't have enough to eat and 1.7 million children don't know where their next meal is coming from. Poverty, joblessness, hunger and homelessness are rampant in America, to an extent not seen since the Great Depression. So, how come our lawmakers are not in crisis mode?

According to Diane Nilan, the 59-year-old founder and president of HEAR US, it's because these people live and work in relative obscurity. Homeless couples, families and children, aren't the visible homeless we see sleeping on the street corner or begging for change, she says. They're working individuals who've fallen on hard times; and they're living among us, all over the country.

In 2005, Nilan sold her house and car, and bought an RV. Over the next eight months, she drove over 20,000 miles through 34 states with her video camera. She conducted 75 interviews with homeless families across the country, ultimately culminating in the documentary series "My Own Four Walls." Her goal: to wake up "clueless" congressmen to this problem and start a serious discussion on how America can do more to help those struggling to find shelter.

Nilan founded HEAR US to give a voice to those who don't have the resources to speak for themselves. Like Mark Horvath and his Invisible People project, Nilan uses the power of documentary to tell the stories that so often float under the radar.

WATCH:

Follow Diane Nilan on Twitter @diane_hearus and watch a brief clip of "My Own Four Walls" via IMDb.

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Filed by Jonathan Daniel Harris  |