We were inspired by the organizations that provide services for those in need. A group of service providers reached out to us to see if we could help them with a project they were working on:


Natasha, from The Landing shared some stories with us:

A woman with a child to a shelter, she calls and they say that they don't take children.

Food pantry where they only give out food on Sundays.

These add to the frustration and  trauma they're already experiencing.

This is why some people in need feel hopeless; like there's no help even when there are organizations that are trying to help. The problem is that they weren't given the appropriate help for their situation. A truly functional referral _system_ does not exist and so the experience was negative.

It is important for us to understand the landscape of all social service providers in the greater Houston area. Organizations cannot stay in their own bubble. They must branch out and collaborate and understand all the other service providers in Houston because it's hard to predict where clients are going to be from day to day. We realize that the intersectionality between victims of human trafficking, victims of other crimes, and those who are homeless is so great – that we need to have an easy way for case managers to appropriately refer to agencies that will take their clients. It is not providing quality services if organizations simply refer to another agency without understanding if our clients even fit their minimum qualifications.

When researching through the current databases of service providers in Houston, we realized that the current lists do not include all of the following qualifications:
1)       Being updated in the last year
2)       Identifying minimum _qualifications_ for servicing clients
3)       Inclusive of all large and small agencies
4)       Enough information to make a solid referral
5)       Not searchable

Therefore, we went through the databases on the Homeless Helpcard, the United Way of Greater Houston Community Resource Directory, the Spot 4 Help website, and other smaller databases to pull all resources on one excel sheet. From there, we worked with people from 10 different agencies to develop a well-thought out survey that would collect information needed to create a comprehensive user-friendly database that case managers and other people in the community can use to more appropriately and easily refer clients to resources in the community.

What it does



Chat Bot

End User Application (Ask Izzy clone)

Service Providers App

PDF Export

The Giving Tree

How we built it

API - Postgres; Phoenix/elixir

Chat Bot - Twilio

End User Application (Ask Izzy clone) - Reactjs; backbone.js; bootstrap; jquery

Service Providers App - Reactjs

The Giving Tree - Unity

Who did what

API - Chris

Chat Bot - Nile

End User Application (Ask Izzy clone) - Antony, Ryan, Ruth and Marc

Service Providers App - Yvonne and Amanda

PDF Export - Evan

The Giving Tree - Tommy and Janine

Typeform - Evan

Design lead - Michelle

Guidance - Natasha, Carla, Anina, Jenna, TK, Jarvis

What's next for Need HOU

Continue to build and refine the components, alongside the different user groups.

Sustainable data collection strategy with the collaboration with our partners:

Coalition for the Homeless City of Houston Mayor's office Houston Police Department The Landing A 2nd Cup United Against Human Trafficking

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