Student-Run Homeless Organization Gets 'Awesome' Recognition

Sep 8, 2015

Credit UnhousedHumanity.org

Tallahassee and Leon County Social Service agencies are focusing on helping homeless people. And they’re getting some help from a new startup called Unhoused Humanity.  For the creator of the organization, the issue of homelessness, hits home.

Florida State University student Ramon Aleman says homelessness is a personal, issue. At one time, his grandfather was homeless, but Aleman says his family didn’t say much about it.

“I know he suffered from alcoholism for a bit. But the details are kind of obscure. But they didn’t give me too much information. And I think that’s because he doesn’t want that information the given to me.”

Today, Aleman’s grandfather has a home. But that experience led the Florida State University Student to begin a crowd-funding site called Unhoused Humanity, which helps working, homeless families get into permanent housing.

“They’re in homeless shelters, or in some cases, they’re couch-surfing. The problem is, the shelters get filled up," Aleman explained. "By moving people out the shelter into homes, we open space for new families to be housed during the transition period.”

Unhoused Humanity launched six months ago, and so far, it’s helped about four families pay rent deposits and start up utility costs. Aleman is the most recent recipient of the Tallahassee Awesome Foundation’s $1,000 micro-grant: given to people and organizations with ideas that benefit the community. Aleman has already spent most of his money—helping a homeless veteran get into a home. He says it usually costs about $600 to get a household up and running.

“I’ve had households with needs as low as $120 up to $1,100. It depends on how much money they’ve saved up on their own, and how much negotiation the landlord is willing to allow," he said.

Aleman’s Unhoused Humanity works with local social service organizations including The Shelter, Boys Town and the Big Bend Homeless Coalition to find people eligible for hi program. He now has a waiting list—including a family of seven: a single mom and her six kids.

“The need in the community is huge, and it’s funny because we are so small. But we’re the only organization in Tallahassee that provides these funds. So if these people don’t get funding from us, they’re staying without a home.” 

The money Unhoused Humanity receives comes from individual donors. Those donors can choose which family to give money to, and information can be found on unhousedhumanity.org.