By Betty Yu

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A Bay Area art project is using augmented reality as a tool to generate new understanding and compassion for San Francisco’s growing homeless population.

The pilot project “Coming Home” at Proxy SF in Hayes Valley is produced by Lava Mae — a nonprofit which brings mobile showers to people living on the streets, and an art and technology network called Zero 1.

“What we’re hoping happens through is that through art and through the artists’ ability to short circuit the brain and go to the heart, that we can connect with one another, that we see that we have a shared humanity, that we are more alike than we are different,” said Amy Schoening, Lava Mae’s director of arts programming.

Among the stories beginning told in AR is that of a homeless veteran. He got addicted to drugs and fell on hard times. He’s one of eight homeless people from different neighborhoods in San Francisco who are sharing their stories through art and technology.

The free experience gives people a chance to hear from homeless people, in hopes of creating more compassion and empathy in the community.

“At least in San Francisco, it’s pretty protected, you know you don’t really engage, this close to the homeless and it’s emotional,” said San Francisco resident Brad Black. “It’s close, and they’re people and it’s impactful.”

Peter Logan feels likewise.

“I can’t solve the problem, I can’t afford to give everybody money, but this is kind of opening up a dialogue,” Logan said. “Now when I see somebody I think it could be one of these people.”

You can download the ‘Coming Home’ Lava Mae app to watch the augmented reality stories.

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