Walk with, not by.

Jonathan Kumar

Tech Brief

Fully-subsidized housing was being provided by King County, but Nicole found herself on a multi-year waiting list given how limited units were. Unbeknown to her, certain hospitals she had visited as well as her Medicaid plan also provided subsidized housing, but she wasn't quite "expensive enough" to be flagged for the intervention. All they could do was print UniteUs referrals for her to utilize at a shelter or food bank. Most of the time, Nicole didn't have the capacity, or sometimes the desire, to take advantage of the referral. As she lived unsheltered and her health degraded, Nicole received a Samaritan Membership from a nonprofit doing street outreach. She got a smart wallet and started receiving funds from organizations and individuals who believed in her. She began earning bonuses for taking positive action steps such as meeting with her case manager weekly. She received messages of support and encouragement as she utilized the funds and action steps to progress toward stability. Over time, the financial needs she met and, more importantly, the relationships she built enabled her to attain gainful employment at Goodwill. She moved into housing soon after. Samaritan’s support platform has enabled more than 1,000 people to take steps towards housing, income and health goals. It’s done so in a trauma-informed, capital-efficient, and scalable manner.

Problem Tech Solves

As providers and plans realize that 60-80% of health outcomes are connected to SDOH, they've also learned how difficult it is to address these complex determinants. There’s no magic wand. Without solutions, physicians and staff eventually burn out or lose satisfaction. Patient throughput is affected. Prices rise for all. For unhoused individuals in particular, housing is the answer. But housing is incredibly complex to provide. And, for our neighbors in need, it's even more complex (& expensive) to access. Just ask Nicole S., who experienced homelessness for over 10 years in Seattle. Nicole had absolutely zero capacity to make it through the ~27 steps required for her to find a stable home. She had absolutely zero capacity for sustained action and strategic thinking, given the traumas she was experiencing daily. Her experience of homelessness drove bouts of substance use, survival sex, and criminal activity, which of course created deeper barriers. More than one million men, women, and children will face these conditions in the US this year, cutting their life expectancy in some cases by more than 20 years.


Through bespoke combinations of direct cash, relational support, and incentivized behavioral change, Samaritan expects that over 50% of Members will measurably improve SDOH quality measures (including moving from unhoused to housed). This expectation is based on Seattle and OKC deployments, which showed that just $40/mo through Samaritan's system and 4 monthly messages of support drove measured improvement in access to services, utilities, and housing for 55% of Members (https://samaritan.city/stories and https://samaritan.city/stories/okc, n=500 and n=65 respectively). These types of life-changing SDOH outcomes are linked to significantly reduced need for emergency care (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4046466/).