Can Social Media End Homelessness? A Look at New Research

By Lindsey Habenicht


Note: Please welcome to our team Lindsey Habenicht, a Seattle University strategic communications junior. Lindsey just got back from a highly regarded student research conference, where she shared a unique perspective on homelessness. Here’s her report.

“3,772.” I paused and watched people exchange confused glances.

“3,772,” I continued, “That’s how many men, women, and children were without shelter during King County, Washington’s three-hour street count. That number is an increase of 21 percent over those found without shelter last year, yet it is still assumed to be an undercount.” I paused again — this time to see looks of disbelief.

“Are you surprised?” 30 heads nodded yes. “Case-in-point, popular media suffers a severe void when it comes to sharing stories of homelessness.”

This is how I started my presentation at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, April 16-18 at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Wash. I had been invited to share my research as one of 3,000 students at the conference. Continue reading

Firesteel Blog: Hacking to End Homelessness

More from inside the Hackathon!  Our partners at Firesteel have documented their Hack to End Homelessness experience in this great blog post. It describes Erin’s experiences working on the “Maptastics” super-team, features one of Denise Miller’s trademark awesome videos about the weekend and also includes an interview with our special guest, Mark Horvath.

Read it here: Firesteel / Blog / Hacking to End Homelessness.



Mark Horvath Hacking to End Homelessness: May 1-4, 2014 (Haley’s View)

Written by Haley Jo Lewis, Student Project Assistant, Seattle University’s Project on Family Homelessness

After months of working with Seattle University’s Project on Family Homeless, I knew just how influential Mark Horvath is in efforts being made to end homelessness. His passion and energy are contagious, even through the computer screen. I was eager to meet the man behind the film @home and the Invisible People movement.

On May 1, partners from the three Seattle University projects on family homelessness welcomed e-activist Mark Horvath (@hardlynormal) to Seattle. We had invited Mark to join our partners at Impact Hub and Hack to End Homelessness (@hack2end) to motivate and educate Hackathon participants on homelessness and its solutions. After watching the documentary about his work, @home, multiple times and following his passionate work on Twitter and Youtube, I was anxious and excited to meet Mark.

Mark’s work could be said to manifest in the documentary @home. This new film followed Mark on a cross-country journey as he talked with homeless people and filmed their stories to share with the world. Read my reaction on Firesteel to this moving, inspiring, and beautiful documentary.

Not only had I written a blog post in reaction to @home, but I had also created some art inspired by his film. I was excited to meet the man behind the camera, and to give him the art I had created for it.

mark horvath haley lewis twitter drawing @home film
I (@peopleneedhomes) tweet a photo to Mark of one of the drawings I did for him a few days before our meeting.


Mark was kind, compassionate, and grateful. I knew from the get-go that Mark was a storyteller, but in person it was a whole different ball game. Every story he told was captivating, and when he spoke, people listened. There is something about the way Mark tells stories that is especially moving. Once homeless himself, Mark is dedicated to his work in ways that other people aren’t. Mark’s vulnerability and closeness to the issue is what makes his stories so powerful and moving.

Continue reading

Tech & Nonprofits Collaborate for Hack to End Homelessness, May 1-4

We built a community empowered by technology & design thinking

to solve the problem of homelessness together.

– Candace Faber, Hackathon Project Manager

At Seattle’s first-ever Hack to End Homelessness, May 3-4 at the Impact Hub, more than 60 technologists, graphic designers and storytellers worked side by side with nonprofit service providers and advocacy organizations.  The purpose of the weekend was to build technology tools that the nonprofits can use for service and advocacy.

Hackathon participants working Michael Maine
During the Hackathon, teams worked together for 36+ hours building projects. Photo by Michael B. Maine.

Our project served as the community liaison, connecting the Hackathon organizers to the dozen community partners. This video describes how Seattle U students, faculty and staff participated — as organizers, volunteers and even hackers.

There were 12 teams of 3-7 people each, plus three additional people who floated. One team worked through the night to create an intake interface for YouthCare that will help them place homeless youth in shelters. Another generated incredible insights on our city’s homeless population and their reasons for remaining unsheltered, based on data collected earlier in the week at United Way’s Community Resource Exchange at CenturyLink Field.


Continue reading