Mark Horvath Hacking to End Homelessness: May 1-4, 2014 (Haley’s View)

Written by Haley Jo Lewis, Student Project Assistant, Seattle University’s Project on Family Homelessness

After months of working with Seattle University’s Project on Family Homeless, I knew just how influential Mark Horvath is in efforts being made to end homelessness. His passion and energy are contagious, even through the computer screen. I was eager to meet the man behind the film @home and the Invisible People movement.

On May 1, partners from the three Seattle University projects on family homelessness welcomed e-activist Mark Horvath (@hardlynormal) to Seattle. We had invited Mark to join our partners at Impact Hub and Hack to End Homelessness (@hack2end) to motivate and educate Hackathon participants on homelessness and its solutions. After watching the documentary about his work, @home, multiple times and following his passionate work on Twitter and Youtube, I was anxious and excited to meet Mark.

Mark’s work could be said to manifest in the documentary @home. This new film followed Mark on a cross-country journey as he talked with homeless people and filmed their stories to share with the world. Read my reaction on Firesteel to this moving, inspiring, and beautiful documentary.

Not only had I written a blog post in reaction to @home, but I had also created some art inspired by his film. I was excited to meet the man behind the camera, and to give him the art I had created for it.

mark horvath haley lewis twitter drawing @home film
I (@peopleneedhomes) tweet a photo to Mark of one of the drawings I did for him a few days before our meeting.


Mark was kind, compassionate, and grateful. I knew from the get-go that Mark was a storyteller, but in person it was a whole different ball game. Every story he told was captivating, and when he spoke, people listened. There is something about the way Mark tells stories that is especially moving. Once homeless himself, Mark is dedicated to his work in ways that other people aren’t. Mark’s vulnerability and closeness to the issue is what makes his stories so powerful and moving.

After I gave Mark the artwork I had created for him, he told me how grateful he was, and that he was honored to meet me. It’s this humility and compassion for others that makes Mark such a powerful motivator and activist. I was thrilled when the film’s producers reached out to me to ask if they could use my artwork for t-shirts that could be used to raise more funds for the @home campaign.

mark horvath twitter drawing haley lewis
Mark (@hardlynormal) tweets photos after our meeting.


Our Seattle U team was honored to have lunch with Mark as we prepared to kick off the weekend..

mark horvath seattle university partners
Seattle University partners with Mark Horvath after lunch. Tweet by Seattle University’s Project on Family Homelessness Project Assistant, Tiana Quituagua (@tianaquitugua). L-R: Tiana Quituagua, Hannah Hunthausen, Mark, Catherine Hinrichsen, Lindy Boustedt, Mckenna Haley, and me. Behind the camera: Lisa Gustaveson.


Hack to End Homelessness

Mark was invited to Seattle to be a part of Seattle’s very first the Hack to End Homelessness at the Impact Hub in Pioneer Square. More than 60 tech experts, designers, and advocates worked from May 3-4 to give nonprofits and service providers the technology tools that they need to help and serve homeless people in Seattle. Check out Hack to End’s activities and tech proposals with our blog post of the weekend’s events, complete with photos and four different Storify stories with tweets from participants!

mark horvath catherine heinrichsen twitter
Mark and Catherine tweet together. Those who tweet together, take action together!

Mark was our special guest at all the Hack to End Homelessness event, which also included a unique ArtWalk showcasing photos of homelessness, and a screening of Mark’s film @home. The screening was moving and inspiring to all there. After the film, Mark was one of a panel of experts that gave the tech experts and nonprofit organizations something to reflect on during the weekend of hacking.

Here are some reactions to the Seattle premiere screening of @home at Hack to End Homelessness:

whitney rose twitter
Participant Whitney Rose (@roseaboveit) is moved by @home.


bryan copley twitter
Participant Bryan Copley, founder of Rebls (@reblsfounder), tweets while watching @home in a captivated audience.

These reactions to the film are not uncommon. I myself have watched the film multiple times, and every time it hits home just as hard. The stories and inspiring message behind @home, that solving homelessness IS possible, is just what Hack to End participants needed to motivate them to action.

discussion mark putnam mark horvath hack2end
Catherine Hinrichsen, (@chinrichsen_su) tweets this photo of the panel after the film screening. Present is Mark Putnam, of the Committee to End Homelessness in King County for local expertise; Mark Horvath; director of @home Susanne Suffredin; and event organizer Candace Faber.


For more on Mark’s thoughts about Hack to End Homelessness, Watch this video by Firesteel in which he talks about the importance of Seattle tech experts in ending homelessness.

During His Time Here…

After our Thursday welcome lunch and the Thursday night ArtWalk, but just before heading to the Impact Hub on Friday night to kick off the weekend, Mark joined Catherine Hinrichsen and Lisa Gustaveson to check out Tent City 3 in Tukwila (just south of Seattle). Here are some tweets from their time there:

mark horvath lisa gustaveson twitter tent city tukwila
Lisa Gustaveson of the Faith and Family Homelessness Project (@LisaGustaveson) captures Mark with Catherine and Pastor Jan Bolerjack at Tent City 3. Homeless families are also welcomed at Tent City 3, as well as people of all races, genders, and religious backgrounds.


Mark (@hardlynormal) expresses his excitement over the inclusive nature of Tent City 3.
tent city 2 twitter mark horvath
Mark tweets a picture of Tent City 3. With every tweet he posts, Mark reaches more than 21,000 people.

But what was most important…

The message that Mark left behind in Seattle is what stands out the most from his time spent here. Throughout the weekend, Mark was tweeting, speaking out, and answering questions. His positive energy is contagious. People listen when Mark speaks, and they remember what he has to say. Mark changes the way people think about solving homelessness, something of immeasurable importance.

Here are some reflections on what Mark left behind in Seattle:

mRk 11
Jeff Lilley (@JeffL7), President of Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission, reflects on Mark’s message of the importance of dignity.
mark 12
Hannah Hunthausen (@hhunthausen), of Seattle University’s Faith and Family Homelessness Project also carries with her Mark’s message.
mark 13
Firesteel, (@FiresteelWA), one of our partners and a dedicated organization working to end homelessness through advocacy, tweeted one of Mark’s most valuable messages about homelessness.

One thing is for sure: Seattle’s Hack to End Homelessness wouldn’t have been the same without Mark Horvath. The positivity he brings wherever he goes, packed along with his hardcore determination made him essential to Hack to End’s success. He leaves behind motivation and renewed energy to end homelessness through innovative solutions and compassion. I was honored to meet him, and will continue to remember him, his courage, and his determination in my future work with homelessness.

Check out some of Mark’s work:

Watch the trailer, find a screening near you, and learn more about @home here.

Along with @home the documentary, Mark has been working on filming the stories of homelessness for years now on his site, Invisible His Youtube channel for the Invisible People project has thousands of followers, and is full of inspiring videos and moving stories. Check out his Youtube channel here.

Mark, along with our very own Graham Pruss, contributed to this myth-busting Huffington Post article about homelessness that was posted on their site during his visit.

Mark has been featured in the Huffington Post multiple times; his work has been recognized by organizations like NPR, CNN, and PBS. Mark has even given a TED Talk, and his channel has been featured on the homepage of Youtube.

Follow Mark’s work on Twitter:




Thank you, Mark!

3 thoughts on “Mark Horvath Hacking to End Homelessness: May 1-4, 2014 (Haley’s View)

  1. Pingback: Tech & Nonprofits Collaborate for Hack to End Homelessness, May 1-4 | Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness

  2. Pingback: A new face at the Housing Alliance… is our own Haley | Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness

  3. Pingback: Local Story Behind Debut of “@home” on Chicago PBS Station | Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness

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