Empowering people to gain the social and financial support they need to find a home

Date Awarded: April 14, 2022
Amount: $200,000.00

Samaritan, a Seattle-based early-stage start-up, leverages a mobile app, an online community, and financial technology to empower people experiencing homelessness to meet their health care, housing, and other immediate needs. Samaritan’s technology enables participants to create public-facing profiles on a smartphone app that can share their life stories, the challenges they face, and their personal goals. Each task, such as making an appointment to meet with a care navigator or visiting a primary care provider, yields an incentive payment of up to $20. Samaritan also offers clients the opportunity to connect with an online community of everyday people, local businesses, nonprofits, and religious organizations eager to provide financial and social support.

The Innovation Fund’s investment in Samaritan is especially timely now that Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program, has expanded its involvement with housing and case management services for people with complex physical or behavioral health needs. With more than 150,000 people experiencing homelessness in California, health care organizations are turning to Samaritan to encourage unhoused people to engage with case management and medical care.

Recently, Samaritan partnered with a safety-net hospital and a network of community health centers in Southern California to engage with people who frequent emergency rooms, many of whom are experiencing homelessness.

Samaritan is led by CEO and founder Jonathan Kumar. Born to immigrant parents in poverty, Jonathan and his family quickly learned the value and need for community. Receiving an opportunity to study at the University of Michigan, Jonathan earned a degree in informatics, specializing in UX design. After producing a documentary on social change, Jonathan developed a tool for restaurants to convert surplus food into funding for local food banks called FoodCircles. From there he helped create Samaritan, with the goal to give people without a stable home the social and financial support needed to leave the street.