We’re a startup group of about 20 committed volunteers in San Francisco who feel that chronic homelessness is a solvable problem (for the 99%).
We believe existing online services fail to address the long term needs of homeless people. You can buy a bike for someone, which is of great help, but does not help chronic homelessness. We feel that people are being seen as projects instead of humans with ongoing needs.
Research shows it takes most homeless people more than a year to get out of the short-term survival psychology of homelessness, yet homelessness support programs last an average of 13 weeks. Many people who find work or housing also “relapse” into homelessness over time if they don’t have a support network. [‘Homelessness and Substance use: which comes first?’; Dr G Johnson & Ass. Prof C. Chamberlain; 2008]
Our unique solution to these issues is to facilitate long term community support, which is essential in helping people stay off the streets. StreetIssue.org will connect homeless people with a committed network of financial and emotional supporters. We’ve already established partnerships with existing homelessness service providers in the fields of housing, rehabilitation, health and wealth management. Even IndieGoGo has found our model so compelling that they may include subscription services in a release later this year – which we hope to use too!
We have a global vision, but our feet are on the ground here in San Francisco (from where we’ll grow).
The “Housing First” model works. It has seen a lot of success in recent months in Utah and other places in the USA. The well-known psychologist Maslow explained this by saying that once people’s basic needs for food, shelter and sleep are met, they have the energy and mental capacity to work on being a part of a community, to work on their skills and to go after their dreams. [Maslows Hierarchy - Wikipedia]
But how can the 1.5 million homeless kids in the USA realize their dreams if their basic needs like housing are uncertain? Here in SF “the most commonly cited obstacles to obtaining permanent housing were associated with economic factors.” [‘San Francisco Homeless Count & Survey’; City and County of San Francisco; 2013]
So we plan to fundraise with the local 6,000 homeless people; 2,300 homeless children; 1,300 homeless families; and improve the 1,200 beds and temporary shelter available; and financially support the existing (and overwhelmed) services already doing great work.
We believe that most of the 49,000 people who catch Caltrain each day with average incomes of $115,000 could afford to pay $9 a month to support a homeless family member. This is hopefully true for everyone in San Francisco. We plan to use the funds in Maslow’s order of priority – housing first! Our plan is also to provide financial support to our partner services. We’re thinking of dividing the funds received roughly into 70% housing and living expenses; 25% partner service providers; 5% running StreetIssue.org.
We feel we’ve forgotten that people who are homeless ARE people. Please help us to help ourselves.
How it works
We focused on creating an online community engagement board that would encourage discussion between members of the community - specifically those who are in need, people providing financial assistance, and service providers. As a result of this ongoing conversation, it would create a permanent network of support to prevent the individual from "relapsing" into homelessness. As a second component of our project, we learned that 72% of all dwelling units in San Francisco have two bedrooms or less and the cost to produce and/or preserve one unit under Section 8 housing costs approximately $47,000. Through our research we found that by cutting out the costs of bureaucratic procedure, StreetIssue would buy similar units at market rates and be able to provide housing to more people at a fraction of the cost.
Challenges we ran into
During the process of creating the community board, we ran into technical issues that prevented us from completing all components of the project we had brainstormed. However, we were able to assist one another in overcoming some of the obstacles and focused on finishing the foundation as opposed to getting caught up in the smaller details.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Within our group, we had a very diverse collection of skills. Each of us worked hard to focus on our strengths and were ultimately able to pull them together to contribute to the final project.
What we learned
We were able to think more critically about how to create a community platform for those struggling with homelessness and delved deeper into the issue of housing, allowing us to learn more about the nuances of San Francisco's policies.
What's next for StreetIssue.org
The next steps for StreetIssue.org will be to gather more subscribers in an effort to provide financial assistance to those who are homeless as well as like-minded organizations. Our long-term goal is to continue researching the opportunities surrounding increasing housing density as a solution to the current lack of affordable housing.