San Francisco’s housing crisis is painfully obvious with a homeless population of 7,499 people, according to a 2017 homeless census and survey. People lose their homes for a variety of reasons — job losses, wrongful evictions, excessive rent hikes and so forth. What sometimes prevents people from finding a new home is a lack of available resources, pricey rent costs and lost connections with friends, family and loved ones.
The latter part is where Miracle Messages, founded by Kevin Adler, aims to come in. Miracle Messages, a non-profit organization, enables homeless people to deliver short messages to their loved ones.
There are number of factors that play into people losing touch with their loved ones, Adler told me on the latest episode of CTRL+T.
For one, there are bureaucratic barriers, he said. For example, shelters can’t confirm or deny whether someone is or is not at a facility, due to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Another part of it, Adler says, is digital literacy.
“A lot of people lose their phones, they lose numbers and they don’t know how to reach out,” Adler said. “But the biggest one,” Adler said, is “shame, embarrassment, fear, feeling worthless.”
Since its inception, Miracle Messages has delivered 220 messages and reunited 118 loved ones. Of those reconnections, 80 percent of them have resulted in a positive outcome and 25 percent have led to stable housing.
Through Miracle Messages, Adler hopes housed people will start to see those without homes as more than just homeless people, but as someone’s son, daughter, sister or brother.
In some cases, unfortunately, some people have lost touch with their families — and that’s partly why they landed on the streets in the first place, Adler said. That’s where the organization’s monthly neighborhood dinners can come in.
It’s about “creating avenues where we can engage our neighbors experiencing homelessness on those fronts,” Adler said.
“It’s not ignoring the pressing issue at hand,” he said. “It’s actually reemphasizing the humanity that we all have to offer and that we need as people.”