By Tim Hunt
Miracle Messages reconnects homeless people with their relativesUploaded: Feb 13, 2020
Some good news on the otherwise dismal front of dealing with the people who are homeless.
Miracle Messages, based in San Francisco, just completed its 300th reunion of a homeless person with their loved ones. The non-profit was launched by founder and CEO Kevin Adler after he started talking with homeless people on the streets of San Francisco. Kevin grew up in Livermore and was touched deeply by his late uncle who suffered from mental illness and lived on-and-off the streets over 30 years.
I met Kevin when he presented to the Barnabas Group of the San Francisco Bay Area two years ago and asked how he could scale the organization and reduce its cost per reunion. Miracle Messages hasn’t hit those ambitious growth goals, but it’s already scaling with partner operations in Riverside, South Florida, Los Angeles and Phoenix.
Kevin’s key finding that led to Miracle Messages is that homeless people are socially isolated and have long ago lost contact with their loved ones. His team, which now includes two formerly homeless people as liaisons on the streets, records messages from the homeless people and then uses social media to make the connections. Kevin said they had 50 digital detectives on conference calls every Wednesday evening to get the social media networks hopping.
The statistics shared at its second annual Homecoming Saturday evening at the top of Salesforce Tower (great spot for an event) are impressive. The average time of disconnection is 18 years.
To date, 1,232 messages have been recorded with 537 delivered (80% received positively). Messages can be videos, audios or written and are put together with the help of a trained referral partner. The 300 connections have shown 80 percent positive outcomes with 15 percent now in stable housing. In the 20 percent of cases where the family bridges are burned, the organization facilitates a new social community.
Cities like San Francisco and Oakland—to say nothing of Los Angeles—are spending $30,000 to $50,000 per homeless person annually, while Miracle Messages cost is $2,500. Talk about working from every perspective.
Incidentally, San Francisco Mayor London Breed served as honorary co-chair for the event and wrote a letter of greeting.
Miracle Messages is expanding its services to work with families trying to locate homeless relatives they think are living in San Francisco.
The Legislature passed and governor signed SB 1152 in 2018 that requires hospitals to have a plan for a homeless person before discharging them back to the streets. Miracle Messages now is discussing contracts with hospitals to help them connect frequent patients with families.
The organization also is launching an intergenerational buddy program that will match young professionals with formerly homeless people. The plan is for them to connect once a month or more to prevent a return to isolation and relational poverty.
You can check out the program at: here