A Harvard University student believes crowdfunding could be an answer to helping homeless
people in Boston find housing and employment.
Inspired by his year volunteering at the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter, pre-med student Showly Nicholson created his innovative program Homes for the Homeless on the crowdfunding website Gofundme.com in May 2013.
Homes for the Homeless supports homeless individuals by raising $2,000 per person to cover three months’ shelter, transportation and food, giving them the time and space to save money, focus on maintaining a steady income and apply for work.
“I saw that it takes, minimum, about a year of being on a waiting list to get out of homelessness through government aid,” explained Showly.
“You don’t have a home address, and if you’re lucky enough to stay in a shelter the night before, you might not be well rested or have reliable transportation…all things that often contribute to preventing one from getting a job, or even losing a job.”
Showly set out to help one man in particular who frequented the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter and has been homeless for after losing his job as an accountant.
While searching for a room to rent through sites such as Craigslist and Padmapper, and working in conjunction with the Home Start organization, Nicholson encountered an upsetting truth.
“As soon as we mention that he is homeless, there is no response,” he said.
“We have tried being transparent, but it is almost impossible [to find housing] that way… the only difference between him and others finding housing is his current homelessness.”
The pair have experienced successes and failure so far, but the generosity expressed by the public through online donations – which now totals nearly $2,500 – have humbled them both.
“I could tell he was sceptical at first, but at this point… we just have to get the timing right, and hope he gets the job when we get the housing,” said Showly, who frequently tells his client, “Just don’t lose hope.”
To follow the progress of Homes for the Homeless or make a donation, visit gofundme.com/homes4thehomeless.