The following excerpt is from VENTURE BEAT!!!
In San Francisco, entrepreneurs are proving that technology can be a force for social good. A small but dedicated group has its sights on the homeless community and is building innovative tech to connect people with basic services.
This help is sorely needed, given that homelessness in San Francisco is on the rise. With an estimated 6,500 people living without adequate shelter, most locals have grown accustomed to seeing and interacting with homeless folks as part of life in this city.
But web designer Rose Broome is eager to prove that mobile apps and web-based services can make a difference. In a matter of weeks, Broome and mobile developer Zac Witte created an iPhone app called HandUp that helps you donate to homeless people living in shelters and outdoors in your neighborhood.
“People always ask where the startups are that are solving important problems. Well, here we are,” said Broome.
In an interview, Broome stressed that many of her friends in the tech community want to give to individual homeless people they meet. However, they fear their cash would not be spent on clothing, food, and other essentials but instead would feed a drug or alcohol addiction.
HandUp is designed to alleviate these concerns and benefit people in need. Signing up just takes a few minutes. Around 50 homeless people have registered in the past week, in part due to the support of local nonprofit Coalition on Homelessness.
Once a homeless member has expressed interest, HandUp’s team notes some basic information, such as her first name and neighborhood, and generates a profile and custom paper card.
The member can then hand out the card to stranger or familiar face in the community.
Herein lies the innovation: The card contains information for people to donate via a secure SMS system, and the transaction can be carried out on an iPhone.
The recipient can only redeem the donation at Project Homeless Connect, a San Francisco-based organization that provides housing support, medical care, food, pharmacy gift cards, and other basic essentials.
Stanley Jackson has handed out about 300 cards since he signed up for HandUp on Thursday. His profile contains some biographical information and lists his most pressing needs. Stanley grew up in Oakland, lost six brothers and one sister to violence. His dream is to meet Bill Gates. He is saving up for dentures, shoes, shirts, and of course, housing. On his first day, Stanley earned $28 through HandUp, which he used for a Walgreens gift card and a bus pass.
“I will give out a few hundred cards today,” he told me. “I try to be friendly, and only give out cards to people who I think might donate.” People have told him that it’s a safer way to donate, so he intends to continue using HandUp.
To donate $3 or more to Stanley, text GIVE 3 TO STANLEY to 415-651-4483.