YC-Backed New Story Crowdfunds Houses For Homeless Families

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New Story is a startup in Y Combinator’s current batch that raises funds to build homes for those who lost theirs due to a natural disaster, starting with Haiti. Co-founder Brett Hagler got the idea during a volunteer trip to help those hit by the 2010 earthquake that left thousands of Haitians without homes.

“There are a number of things we don’t think about that go along with not having a home such as rape and kidnapping of children,” Hagler told me over the phone. “I was on a missions trip with a [New Story] partner, Mission of Hope and I saw all these families displaced by the disaster. I knew I wanted to do something then.”

Maria Rose, a widow with four children who lost her home in the earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010, stands happily outside her new home.

Maria Rose, a widow with four children for whom New Story built a new home.

Hagler kept that experience and his idea in the back of his head for a couple of years while working on a socially conscious e-commerce startup called Hucksley. That startup didn’t work out for Hagler, and he found his thoughts wandering back to the homeless families he’d worked with in Haiti.

Hagler added co-founders Alexandria Lafci and Matthew Marshall, both with backgrounds in charity work, to help him create a crowdfunding site that could raise money to build homes for victims of natural disasters.

New Story works on the same crowdfunding principles as Kickstarter or Indiegogo, but for raising money to build homes. It takes one family on at a time, and each campaign needs to raise $6,000 before building begins. Each home takes approximately 45 days to build and those who contributed to funding the build get a picture of the family they helped outside their new home when finished.

The charity is focused on disaster victims in Haiti at the moment, but New Story plans to expand in other areas like Nepal – a country recently hit by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake which killed more than 8,000 people and injured and displaced many more.

“We aren’t for first response and temporary relief, so the time isn’t right yet to go there, but we would like to go there later,” Hagler said. “We want to bring them a home that could last 10 to 15 years.”

New Story co-founders pose for a group photo in Haiti.

New Story co-founders pose for a group photo in Haiti.

It’s a matter of resources and getting partnerships in these other places to start building homes there, according to Hagler. He emphasized the need to provide an overall sound experience on the site for that, as well.

“I don’t like that word ‘nonprofit’ because it doesn’t convey what it should be but I think they should work like a startup, providing a good experience for users,” Hagler said. “But instead of the profit going back to the investors, it goes to families.”

New Story is one of a handful of nonprofits YC has supported since pledging to do so back in 2013.

The startup has so far raised $120,000 beyond YC funding and placed 20 Haitian families into housing. Those who would like to help New Story place more families in homes can contribute by clicking here.