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Share-Fi Mobile: Homeless Outreach and Financial Education through Peer Navigation [UPDATED prototype/user journey 6/2/2015]

Meeting the immediate financial needs of homeless community members by providing transportation and peer support.

Photo of Joe Silva

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Who does this idea benefit, who are the main players and what's in it for them?

Homeless individuals and families living in a shelter or a place not meant for human habitation. It can also inform macro-economic institutions to better understand the specific limitations and local roadblocks within existing systems, as well as community organizations doing outreach with the homeless.

How is your idea specifically using the power of communities to improve financial opportunities and resources?

This model fosters a connection between formerly homeless community members, human service organizations and individuals and families who are trying to escape homelessness. SHARE-Fi MOBILE provides mentor-ship opportunities from those who know what to expect from local resources and services.

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

I have access to a community of homeless veterans. I have a close relationship with a man who has successfully navigated his way out of homelessness . He now lives on his own and pays for all of his living expenses on his own. We can "test-drive" the Share-Fi Mobile model by doing outreach with homeless veterans to perform a needs assessment. This will allow us to determine if the homeless community is interested in having access to a mobile unit that can bring them to their appointments, etc.

What skills, input or guidance might you be seeking from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?

Help creating a visual guide for personalized Share-Fi Mobile curriculum. Help building a corresponding website/blog to share the progress and lessons learned.

This idea emerged from:

  • Other

Check out (my attempt) at prototyping and providing a user journey map in the media gallery.

(Please forgive me for my handwriting!)

The prototype and user journey move through this idea in a fast pace. It should be noted that the process will not go as quickly as it is portrayed. 

The cheat sheet is a version of how to measure our engagement, and how much progress the Veteran has made. The information built during this experience will then be shared on an accompanying website to allow others in this scenario (social workers, formerly homeless veterans, and people looking for services), start to understand how to help themselves.


In the research phase, my contributions emphasized the importance of inclusivity and local leadership.  

I believe people empower themselves.

It is our role to offer support and assistance in areas where they are lacking guidance, training and oversight. In order to successfully engage with a community, we ought to provide what the system lacks and help members build momentum in the right direction. 

But how do we know what the right direction is, or what is going to motivate someone to get where they need to go...?

Those who have been successful navigating the barriers and nuances of their specific community’s economic landscape know what is best for their community.

"Other people's experience is the best teacher" - Jones, former homeless man.

"What about a program that matches mentors with people who are homeless?" - Will Fung, OpenIDEO team-member.

SHARE-Fi MOBILE, (short for “share finance”- mobile) provides an opportunity for people living in a shelter or a place not meant for human habitation to meet with formerly homeless people who have had success navigating the local nuances of the social landscape. Our goal is to provide a space for people to create their own road map towards knowledge and best financial practices, based on what has worked for others in their situation- with guidance from those who've had success.

It is important that we create and maintain a culture of passing knowledge along.

Here's the framework of how we will identify and engage with the homeless community...

A) Partner with community based human service organizations.  For example, identify agencies that specialize in providing support to individuals and families dealing with homelessness.

B) Recruit a leader.  Select an individual who has successfully navigated their way out of homelessness. Prepare them for their role as the Share-Fi MOBILE Peer Navigator. 

C) Perform Outreach. Staff from the identified human service agency and the Mobile Peer Navigator will drive a van into known locations where homeless people stay. They will engage with the homeless (as appropriate*) and begin a relationship that eventually leads to providing transportation.

*Safety of the Share-Fi Mobile team is taken very seriously. 

Here's a layout of how the first few sessions will look.

Session 1) Build Trust.

The first meeting is all about engagement. (No transportation).

The goal is to understand the community's routine.  We must validate the member's efforts, and communicate that we value their current attempts at helping themselves.

Contact information is recorded and a follow up visit is scheduled.

At the end of this session, the team will determine which stage of change each participant is in:

1- Pre-contemplation

2- Contemplation

3- Preparation

4- Action, or

5- Maintenance

Session 2) Appropriating the intervention. (Some transportation)

Each stage of change requires a different method of intervention.

Community members who have displayed behaviors and commitment to similar stages of change can be scheduled to be visited by the team in groups. For example, if a set of Veterans have expressed that they can not get to the Veterans' Affairs office, the Share-Fi Mobile Team can schedule a group transportation effort so that the Peer Navigator meets with multiple veterans who have shared needs.

During the transport, the Peer Navigator will build on the first session and start to share stories about how he/she has been navigating services at the VA himself/herself. 

This session is for learning what they know about their own needs.

Session 3) Curriculum Building or "Cheat Sheeting"

Prior to the 3rd session, the Share-Fi team will create a personalized road map to help guide the participants across the landscape, based on what they expressed they wanted, and the discussions they had with the Peer Navigator.

This is the culmination of the outreach effort: a takeaway document that provides specific  information for achieving their definition of financial empowerment, and a lasting connection to the Share-Fi team for aftercare.

/////// Discussion ///////

We can never be sure when financial empowerment is "accomplished"; this is determined by the individual doing the work.

Share-Fi Mobile allows knowledge to simply, accumulate.

We provide an opportunity for people to get to their "ah-HA!" moment on their own, with guidance from someone who has been there before.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Shane Zhao

Hey Joe, thought you might like to check out the HandUP platform and model:)

Photo of Joe Silva

Oh man, this is so great thank you for sharing.

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