stories of impact

In September 2016, forty people without a home in Seattle joined a pilot to access financial & social capital in order to advance their lives. Through Vulcan and other backers, the technology was used by ten incredible local agencies to reach a larger group, leading to the following outcomes:

early ‘beacon holders’

500

city resident ‘samaritans’

12116

beacon holders making monthly ‘lifecare visits’

54%

(Dec. 2018)

reported life-changing outcomes

45

(case studies shared below)
Chuck (the first-ever beacon holder) had been on a housing waiting list for three years. Through his beacon, Chuck got nutrition and warm clothing and began to meet monthly with a counselor. Five months later, his counselor was able to help him into an apartment. “This makes me feel like there's somebody out here who actually wants to help.”
1/41
Nicole ran away from home at 16, struggling with addiction and prostitution. After several years of homelessness, a nonprofit offered her a beacon, which she used to purchase food and critical supplies like a phone and phone plan. A samaritan one day recognized her through the app, and helped her into a GED and Forklift Training program at Goodwill. Through the program, Nicole finally secured housing. “This was the first time in seven years people have seen me for who I am, not what I look like or where I’ve come from.”
2/41
Michael found out about the beacon through another beacon holder at a Saturday morning breakfast at a church. He called the samaritans who began to invest in his life, “the way I kept myself pointed in the right direction.” To keep his beacon active, Michael began having lifecare visits with a counselor. After 501 days on being the street, he entered housing through his counselor.
3/41
Larry lost his home after his wife of 20 years passed and he was laid off in the same month. After moving to Seattle to try to find fishing work, Larry ended up homeless. Larry used the more than $400 he received on his beacon to pay move-in costs on an apartment.
4/41
Lori was evicted October 2015 after reporting safety hazards in her apartment building. She was on the streets for 27 months, living in shelters and in encampments with her service dog. When Lori got her beacon, she connected immediately with a counselor. The counselor helped Lori pay a security deposit on a home as well as move-in items through her beacon.
5/41
Lamar came to Seattle from Fort Lauderdale. He ended up in jail and on the street after a series of self-described poor decisions. After getting a beacon, Lamar’s counselor reported he had started making his court appearances, visiting his family, and had reduced no-shows for case management. “Even if I don’t have faith in myself, or I feel like I can’t make it, this just gives me an extra oomph,”
6/41
Shannon became homeless after a lease disagreement with his landlord. Shannon said his main goal was to start working, but didn’t have the connections he needed. When Shannon got a beacon, he said he was not looking for a lot of money, and used it to afford transportation to and from job interviews. Eventually, Shannon secured his employment and credited samaritans for helping him get there.
7/41
Saul turned to drugs and alcohol after his brother died in service, eventually ending up in prison. When he was released, he was on the street and health issues significantly impaired his mobility. Saul heard about the beacon and used it to keep himself nourished as well as to keep his phone on. He needed his phone to maintain his job as a bike courier and to keep in contact with his doctor for medical treatment.
8/41
Darnell moved from Kentucky to Seattle to try to access better services. He heard about the beacon through a meal site and used it to pay for transportation to and from part-time opportunities. Darnell met a counselor through his beacon, who was eventually able to help him into housing.
9/41
Nathan moved from Michigan to Seattle to find work in construction, ending up homeless during his search. He heard about the beacon at a meal site, and used more than $100 he received towards professional work clothes. Nathan said the new clothes gave him the confidence to apply himself again and earned him a full-time job at a restaurant.
10/41
Robert struggled to manage his diabetes while on the streets. He heard about the beacon and used the money received for life-critical medication, as well as food and transportation. He since moved into a tiny home. He continues to use the beacon to pay for needed medications and stay in touch with community.
11/41
Geoffrey struggled to get money for critical supplies while homeless because he hated panhandling. He said he cried when his first samaritan invested in him. The beacon went toward food and clothes as he searched for work and housing. He is now housed and working in an Amazon warehouse. “When I got my first gift from a samaritan, I was in the library crying at the thought that someone out there cares about me.”
12/41
Jarad moved to Seattle from Virginia and slept under underpasses while searching for jobs. After getting a beacon, Jarad was able to buy a new backpack and running shoes. A samaritan later donated a laptop to him after reading his story. Another samaritan offered him mentorship, which Jarad said gave him the confidence he needed for his job contracted at Nintendo.
13/41
Sean had a traumatic brain injury and felt unable to hold a steady job. With his beacon, Sean bought interview clothes and other critical supplies. Sean said having the beacon allowed him to focus on recovery, and he now works at UPS.
14/41
Joseph became homeless after he lost his job and a long-term relationship. He needed personal protection equipment to start at a job in construction. After getting a beacon, a samaritan read Joseph’s story and offered to take him directly into a Timberland store to purchase what he needed. With the help of the samaritan, Joseph got all of the equipment he needed to work in construction and found housing thereafter.
15/41
Sadie became homeless after losing her job and ending an abusive relationship. Sadie was housed after a 10-year struggle with homelessness, but faced eviction when a situation with her son prevented her from paying rent. She learned about the beacon and avoid her eviction through it. Because Sadie stayed housed, she was able to find a job soon after. “I was homeless for 10 years … the beacon people helped me so I wasn't evicted and didn't lose my place again.”
16/41
Michael and his son Jacob moved to Seattle for work but their plans did not work out and they became homeless . They found out about the beacon and used hundreds of dollars received to buy the clothing and shoes needed to both get employed at Whole Foods. After finding employment, they were able to move into tiny homes to save up for a permanent apartment. “Hopefully we're up and running enough that we can return it back to everybody for what they did, we can help other people,” Michael said”
17/41
Laura ended up on the street after she ran away from domestic violence. Laura eventually found housing, but outstanding traffic tickets and penalties prevented her from getting to a job she had received where she needed to drive. Laura learned about the beacon through a nonprofit and received support to regain her license and pay rent to take the job and remain housed. “I think I just needed people to believe in me. People who see me and who believe in my vision for myself and who support that.”
18/41
Raven became homeless after his stepdad kicked him out of his home. Chronic medical issues made it hard for Raven to keep a job. Through his beacon, Raven formed relationships with samaritans who have given him critical items and have invited him into their community, providing the hope and support needed to eventually find work again. “I’ve been on the streets over 13 years. I’ve seen and heard everything. This has probably helped me more than anything else.”
19/41
Deborah started living on her own when she was 19. She ended up on the streets after not finding a job. Deborah learned about the beacon and used it to buy waterproof clothes so she could keep delivering food on her bike to earn income towards housing. “[With the beacon] I got a waterproof coat and pants, that helped me stay outside in the rain...It helps me a lot. It helps me save for other things that really I struggle on.”
20/41
Heidi ended up on the street after medical conditions made it hard to hold a job. After receiving a beacon, Heidi bought clothing for interviews and other critical supplies she needed to find a job. The relationship she formed through her lifecare visits with a counselor led to her being housed. “This is a lifeline. It’s awesome. Makes me feel almost normal again. Like part of the human race almost.”
21/41
Miranda had several challenges to staying employed and housed. After getting her beacon, which she used for transportation, Miranda connected with a counselor who got her access to a transitional living shelter in Seattle. At the shelter, Miranda got access to case management so she could find housing and go back to school for writing.
22/41
David ended up on the street in Seattle through experiencing gang violence. He used the beacon to get a new passport so he could apply for housing. The money on the beacon also helped him get critical supplies such as food and clothing as he worked with counselors to get off the street. Through meeting regularly, David eventually got into supportive housing.
23/41
John struggled with mental health and addiction after serving in Vietnam and ended up homeless. After accepting a beacon, John received $136 and several messages of support over the course of a week. Without spending any of the money, he called in to say he had finally chosen to enter rehab to confront his addiction. John said he had found a renewed sense of hope and wanted to invest in putting his life back together like others had. “The words […] won't stop ringing in my head since the day I got the beacon.”
24/41
Nathan came to Seattle from Massachusetts, but couldn’t find work and ended up on the streets. After learning about the beacon, he started having lifecare visits with a formerly-homeless counselor. Over time, Nathan built up enough confidence to finally apply for a job again. With the first paycheck Nathan received, he took his former counselor out for dinner.
25/41
Haile was evicted after being laid-off from a construction job due to injury. The bone spur in his foot made it incredibly painful to walk more than six blocks at a time, which made finding new work difficult. Samaritans invested into Haile to help him to purchase a bike that enabled him to travel more freely and take the pressure off his foot. Through having a bicycle, he found a job at Safeco Field and began to save money to buy a car to start a taxi service.
26/41
Shawn learned about the beacon while living outdoors. With $40 given to him from samaritans, Shawn had the option to use it for rain gear, cell phone credit or to hire the Samaritan “job hacker” for two hours. He decided to make an appointment with the job hacker. The next day, Shawn had a job at Safeco field.
27/41
Warren was working 60-70 hours a week when he eventually collapsed and underwent a major medical treatment, leading to his homelessness. He learned about the beacon and used it to get a professional haircut and enough food until he was able to find full-time employment again.
28/41
Chris came to Seattle after a friend offered him work and a place to stay. When his friend disappeared, Chris ended up on the street. In a short time, Chris developed mental illness that made him unable to hold conversations or be in confined spaces. He was convinced to receive a beacon. Support received through the beacon helped him survive with food, flashlight batteries and clothes. His counselor built enough of a connection through lifecare visits that Chris was able to come indoors again. Eventually, Chris was permanently housed. “Thanks to [samaritans] checking on me and feeding me—still don’t know how I would have kept warm or ate many nights because of you.”
29/41
Ruby became homeless after she said she was wrongfully evicted from her apartment. Through receiving a beacon on the street, Ruby was able to feed herself and pay for a storage locker. She then began to meet with a counselor who referred her to legal help for her court battle, as well as move-in fees for an apartment.
30/41
Roberto became homeless after he moved from San Diego to Seattle and said he was part of a scam. Receiving his beacon at a meal site, Roberto used it to afford essential prescriptions, which were critical to his survival until he was successfully housed.
31/41
Gloria ended up on the street after a divorce, loss of child custody, and subsequent addiction. Through her beacon, Gloria was connected to a counselor who helped her get a bed at a shelter where she felt comfortable and could work with people she said she believed in. She now has regular check-ins with a team to work towards getting housing and custody of her daughter.
32/41
Abigail moved to Seattle from Dallas to find work, but work permit issues prevented her from getting a job. Her counselor reported after meeting monthly that Abigail was housed.
33/41
Shakendra became homeless due to family circumstances. With aspirations to become a nurse, she was able to use her beacon to buy groceries and clothing as she persisted to find housing. Through meeting with a counselor for monthly lifecare visits, she was eventually housed.
34/41
Melissa became homeless after an abusive relationship led to addiction and the custody of her daughter being lost. She decided to turn herself into rehab to get clean and get her daughter back. She used a beacon to get critical supplies from Goodwill along the way. Her counselor reported after using the beacon for several months, she was able to find housing. “I've enjoyed my community caring about me. Even if someone gives only a dollar, it feels like a million.” -Melissa M”
35/41
Maurro became homeless after a work altercation and theft of his wallet. Through a beacon, samaritans invested enough into Maurro to help him buy clothes for interviews, leading him to find employment at a market research company. Maurro is most recently working with his counselor to get housing, in hopes of bringing his family over from Samoa.
36/41
Wendell lost his job as a teacher and ended up on the streets. After learning about the beacon, he used the hundreds of dollars he got from samaritans for transportation, food and other critical supplies he needed to survive. The support eventually led to him finding employment again.
37/41
Carolyn was formerly an English teacher and became homeless after she said she fell through the cracks. When she received her beacon, she had been homeless for years and was searching for housing. She used the funds on her beacon for daily necessities, such as groceries, vitamins and fresh goods while she worked with a case manager to find housing. She called the beacon a lifesaver, saying it supported her as she worked toward her goals. After five years on the street, Carolyn finally found an apartment. “[The beacon is the] greatest thing that could’ve ever happened to me... Greatest thing that could happen to homeless people as far as finances go. It makes it easy to keep your humanity.”
38/41
Rodney moved to Seattle from Minnesota in search of better job opportunities and healthcare. After he received his beacon, he began having lifecare visits and created a game plan of steps to get where he wants to be. He was then able to get an ID so he could enroll in Goodwill job training, two key pieces of the game plan. Since starting job training, Rodney has begun working closely with a counselor whom he trusts and who is helping him to work toward housing and employment. He was able to form a meaningful relationship which has empowered him to keep moving forward.
39/41
Tracy left Seattle to care for her son, who got into a car accident and was on life support. She faced an eviction when she got back to Seattle and ended up homeless. When she got her beacon, Tracy was trying to get her commercial driver's license as she studied toward becoming a physician assistant. Tracy used the hundreds of dollars she received on her beacon to pay for her CDL so she could get a job in the transportation industry, and her overdue storage which contained documents she'd need for housing and employment. Tracy said when so many samaritans invested into her life, she was speechless. “I couldn't talk for like a whole day. I was just numb. I felt speechless. It gave me a lot of inspiration to continue to be strong.”
40/41
An individual heard about the beacon and decided to visit an agency to request one. When the individual started going through the intake, the agency realized he was suited for work, enlisted him into training, and eventually hired him onto a city street clean team.
41/41

time unsheltered

~3 years

money from beacon

~$240/mo

lifecare visits

5

outcome

Housed

time unsheltered

10 years

money from beacon

$921

lifecare visits

14

outcome

Housed, Employed

time unsheltered

501 days

money from beacon

$875

lifecare visits

12

outcome

Housed

time unsheltered

~8 years

money from beacon

$478

lifecare visits

17

outcome

Housed

time unsheltered

27 months

money from beacon

$38

lifecare visits

4

outcome

Housed

time unsheltered

>3 years

money from beacon

$128

lifecare visits

4

outcome

Self-Empowered

time unsheltered

1 year

money from beacon

$58

lifecare visits

2

outcome

Employed

time unsheltered

18 months

money from beacon

$1,123

lifecare visits

6

outcome

Employed

time unsheltered

Unknown

money from beacon

$159

lifecare visits

8

outcome

Employed, Housed

time unsheltered

Unknown

money from beacon

$138

lifecare visits

2

outcome

Employed

time unsheltered

Unknown

money from beacon

$1,424

lifecare visits

29

outcome

Health

time unsheltered

Unknown

money from beacon

$48

lifecare visits

2

outcome

Self-Empowered, Employed

time unsheltered

Unknown

money from beacon

$145

lifecare visits

2

outcome

Self-Empowered, Employed

time unsheltered

Unknown

money from beacon

$149

lifecare visits

4

outcome

Employed

time unsheltered

Unknown

money from beacon

$472

lifecare visits

4

outcome

Employed, Housed

time unsheltered

~10 years

money from beacon

$1,086

lifecare visits

8

outcome

Housed, Employed

time unsheltered

~6 months

money from beacon

$701

lifecare visits

2

outcome

Employed, Housed

time unsheltered

~1 year

money from beacon

$603

lifecare visits

1

outcome

Employed, Housed

time unsheltered

~14 years

money from beacon

$2,201

lifecare visits

17

outcome

Relationship

time unsheltered

4-5 years

money from beacon

$355

lifecare visits

3

outcome

Employed

time unsheltered

Unknown

money from beacon

$155

lifecare visits

2

outcome

Housed

time unsheltered

Unknown

money from beacon

$103

lifecare visits

2

outcome

Relationship

time unsheltered

Unknown

money from beacon

$2,641

lifecare visits

7

outcome

Housed

time unsheltered

Unknown

money from beacon

$136

lifecare visits

0

outcome

Self-Empowered

time unsheltered

7 years

money from beacon

$47

lifecare visits

9

outcome

Self-Empowered, Employed

time unsheltered

Unknown

money from beacon

$150

lifecare visits

4

outcome

Employed

time unsheltered

3 years

money from beacon

$40

lifecare visits

1

outcome

Employed

time unsheltered

Unknown

money from beacon

$40

lifecare visits

2

outcome

Employed

time unsheltered

22 months

money from beacon

$318

lifecare visits

5

outcome

Relationship, Self-Empowered

time unsheltered

22 months

money from beacon

$318

lifecare visits

6

outcome

Relationship, Housed

time unsheltered

Unknown

money from beacon

$267

lifecare visits

8

outcome

Health

time unsheltered

Unknown

money from beacon

$267

lifecare visits

2

outcome

Relationship

time unsheltered

Unknown

money from beacon

$58

lifecare visits

4

outcome

Housed

time unsheltered

Unknown

money from beacon

$125

lifecare visits

2

outcome

Housed

time unsheltered

Unknown

money from beacon

$247

lifecare visits

5

outcome

Housed

time unsheltered

~5 months

money from beacon

$76

lifecare visits

4

outcome

Employed

time unsheltered

Unknown

money from beacon

$543

lifecare visits

10

outcome

Self-Empowered, Employed

time unsheltered

5 years

money from beacon

$309

lifecare visits

9

outcome

Housed

time unsheltered

Unknown

money from beacon

$372

lifecare visits

12

outcome

Self-Empowered, Relationship

time unsheltered

Unknown

money from beacon

$526

lifecare visits

1

outcome

Employed

time unsheltered

Unknown

money from beacon

$0

lifecare visits

0

outcome

Employed