Homeless Project: Couple in San Francisco with dog

Photo by Franco Folini. Creative Commons license.

The homelessness epidemic is at an all-time high in the Bay Area. Many folks feel as though their hands are tied, no matter how much it hurts them to see their homeless neighbors needlessly suffer, especially while the region’s rich get richer.

The Heartstrings Project Makes Donating Easier than Ever.

This is where Bay area nonprofit/tech hybrid the Heartstrings Project comes in. The company allows any nonprofit to create embeddable fundraising campaigns that work on WordPress, Medium, Buzzfeed and other publishing platforms. 

By both engaging the press and bloggers who shed light on the issue and also making it easier for the public to contribute, the Heartstrings Project is helping bridge the gap. Their embeddable campaigns are a great example of how technology can help make the act of giving back to our community easier and more accessible than ever before.

Related: Why Can’t We Seem to Fix Homelessness?

“We live in a community that considers no technological challenge too large to overcome, yet we ignore the very visceral challenges facing those struggling right outside our windows. We develop self-driving cars and rockets to Mars, but we haven’t cracked how to help the at least 9,000+ homeless who live and die on our streets and in our shelters,” creator Jeremy Lubin says. “Fortunately, the Bay Area is blossoming with smart, impactful non-profits dedicated to improving the lives of our homeless neighbors. And they need the tech industry’s help in terms of both resources and innovative spirit.”

Places that Need Your Help

Whether you choose to open your wallets or donate your time, there are several spaces where you can help, Lubin says:

  • Housing: San Francisco’s Housing First program was created to place homeless community members in permanent housing, where they can begin to receive counseling and services to address the underlying causes of their homelessness. While well-intentioned, Housing First has been plagued by a lack of affordable housing. The SF Community Housing Partnership fills that gap: they provide properties and services that increase affordable housing and enable self-sufficiency.
  • Hygiene: Poor hygiene is one reason why temporary homelessness becomes chronic; it’s a significant barrier to finding work. LavaMae provides mobile showers to the San Francisco homeless population, among others, and provides a level of hospitality and service that aims to restore human dignity.
  • Services: Almost three quarters of the San Francisco homeless population relies on some sort of government service as they work to improve their circumstances. Project Homelessness Connect attempts to make these much-needed services — from haircuts to prescription eyewear — easier to obtain. Thanks to the generosity of thousands of volunteers, they’ve provided services to over 85,000 homeless and low-income San Franciscans so far this year.
  • Youth: Over 10 percent of the homeless population in San Francisco is under the age of 18. Most are living on the street rather than in shelters, and half have expressed concerns about their safety. Larkin Street Youth Services aims to inspire youth to move beyond the street, and three out of four young people who complete their program do just that.

“People are increasingly eager to make an impact when the moment is right and the ask is small. It’s well-proven that we humans enjoy increased happiness when we give back, and the rate of online giving is skyrocketing,” Lubin says.

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