A new intervention that helps unhoused neighbors set housing and health goals, and access the financial and social capital needed to reach those goals.
Launching in July, “Good Samaritans” in Oklahoma City can download the free Samaritan app to bear witness to the stories and goals of individuals experiencing homelessness in our community and invest in their journey toward leaving the street. The OKC pilot is estimated to help 50 unhoused neighbors address critical housing, employment, and health challenges.
Smart wallets, called "beacons", will be offered as a resource to individuals through City Care outreach and advocacy teams. Once a person has a beacon, they can access funds by reaching goals set or from individuals and organizations seeking to support their journey. Samaritan app users can also write letters of encouragement and well wishes and provide job opportunities to beacon-holding neighbors.
Beacon holders choose how to utilize their funds with a City Care case manager, who they'll meet with monthly to update goals
and needs, or with partnered merchants who provide critical resources, like food, hygiene items, clothing, phone service or medication. The beacons will also serve as a form of electronic ID, securely storing critical documents such as insurance cards, state IDs, or work permits, the loss or theft of which can lead to significant barriers for people without a home.
One beacon holder in the Seattle pilot, John, struggled with mental illness and substance use for years after serving in Vietnam. After accepting a beacon, he received $136 and several messages of encouragement over the course of 10 days. Without spending a dollar, John checked into full-time inpatient rehab for the first time, citing that everyday people investing in him overwhelmed him with a desire to invest in himself.
Another Seattle beacon holder, Nicole, stated, “This is the first time in seven years people have seen me for who I am, not where I’ve come from or what I look like.” We believe in the intrinsic value of every person and that our neighbors living on the margins in Oklahoma City also deserve to be seen.
This pilot has been generously funded by the United Way of Central Oklahoma’s WayFinder Grant, but we still need the help of our community to make this a success. Oklahoma City Samaritans can start by downloading the app here for iPhones or here for Androids.