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What’s Hot & Cool? #10: High-Tech and Motorized Help for the Homeless

Apps, algorithms, and other innovations help the homeless

What’s happening? Right now over 560,000 people are homeless in the U.S. and according to national stats, the number has declined from previous years. Yet, the problem still prevails.  This year the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) held an Innovation Lab in Los Angeles to address how cities can better serve the homeless by offering social services in parks. Mashable also featured 8 innovative technologies targeting challenges associated with homelessness, including an algorithm designed to prevent HIV among homeless teens.

Why should you care?  New business ideas are not just for profit; they are for social good.

Who’s leading?  Founder of Lava Mae, Doniece Sandoval, launched her business venture from a broken down San Francisco city bus with 100K awarded from Google. Three years later her organization has grown to several mobile pop-up shower and laundry trailers operating in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Silicon Valley areas and offers dental and legal services and personal hygiene packs in addition to its facilities. Sandoval has secured nearly $1M in funding and gives nearly 30-50,000 showers annually. She also just expanded to a second location in Los Angeles following a $500,000 grand prize awarded by the KIND Foundation last year.

What can you do? Think about problems your community faces and how your entrepreneurial skills (technical or otherwise) can alleviate them. First steps? Talk to community members, social workers, city planners. Find a cause you care about. Then build a concerned team and put together a business plan. Business Insider suggests alternatives to funding a nonprofit without an investor.