Humanize Austin is a platform for homeless people to share their stories online.
AUSTIN, Texas – The reintroduction of the camping ban is inspiring some Central Texans to find new ways to help the city’s undocumented population. The non-profit organization Humanize Austin aims to combine technology with kindness by creating online profiles for people who live on the streets.
“As the name suggests, we want to humanize and help the community understand or understand that it is people like you,” said Dusty Monroe, President and Founder of Humanize Austin. “We’ve put together nice, heartwarming stories about where they’re from, their families, their aspirations, their goals, their skills.”
Humanize Austin gave its customers QR codes on posters or business cards. The non-profit organization currently has three customers. Your profiles can be viewed when phone cameras scan the QR codes.
“I’m human. I like to talk and read people before I get my cards out,” said Kenneth Orlando Trotter, a Humanize Austin client. “I wanted to save someone else’s life.”
According to Trotter’s Humanize Austin profile, he grew up in a poor household with no father and was a drug addict for many years. He told KVUE that he was sober now and swore never to use drugs again.
At the moment, Trotter said he was staying at the Salvation Army shelter and had been homeless for a little over a year.
Trotter said he recently got a job and is saving money to reunite with his mother, whom he hasn’t seen in nearly 20 years. He said the donations he needed would be used for a down payment for an apartment, weekly meals, new clothes for an interview, and assistance with class because he wants to become a youth drug counselor.
“Humanize Austin does not distribute the funds directly to our attendees. Instead, we use the community-donated funds to purchase items that will be identified as a ‘needs list’ when we first have that attendee on board.” Said Monroe. “In the case of Kenneth, one of our youngest customers, we actually went with him. We wanted to enjoy the experience together. We went on horseback. We had a budget that was based on how much he got. He needed new shoes , new clothes and the like for church and job interviews. We just went with them and at the end of the visit we stole our company card and followed it up. “
You can read Trotter’s full story Here.
“One of the biggest barriers to a community member giving a donation to someone who [is] Homelessness means they are not sure where the money is going, “Monroe said.” There is also an area where you can leave comments. And so some of our people get really nice comments from members of the community. “
“I’m just staying positive and moving forward,” Trotter said.
Monroe said he launched the nonprofit in the fall of 2020.
“It’s kind of perfect timing to say, ‘How can we use technology, the signs people are already using, to really connect the homeless to the community?'” Said Monroe.
Monroe said they are still figuring out how to get customers since the nonprofit is new, but right now they are working with social service organizations like that Salvation Army and Downtown Austin Community Court to get them on board and help distribute leaflets.
“Whether people are okay with the camping ban or not, one thing that I think has helped the city is that it really puts the spotlight on how many people are homeless,” Monroe said. “To me, I’m a citizen of Austin. I’m a homeowner. I want my city to be happy. I want to be healthy. I want the people in it to be happy and safe.”
According to Monroe, Humanize Austin has a seven-person volunteer panel and a list of volunteers who have reached out to them for various positions. For health reasons, Monroe is stepping down as a senior volunteer, and Humanize Austin is looking for someone to lead the nonprofit.
“It was a challenge and I’ve really tried to focus on myself and my own health. I’m looking for someone to take the lead,” said Monroe. “We can work on this together, but at the same time we’re actively working with the city to find funding for hiring a full-time executive director. I think this would really help us scale to the 50 or so participants we are are.” I hope to have by the end of the year. “
If you want to contact Humanize Austinyou can call 512-537-4879.