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New Story (YC S15 nonprofit) Crowdfunds Houses for Homeless Families (techcrunch.com)
65 points by sarahbuhr on May 15, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 27 comments

hey guys! would love any feedback, and here to answer any questions you might have.

Do you have issues with land property? If you do, how do you solve that?

I have some experience with housing social projects in Brazil. And it was a big problem that the ones with most need for a decent house were exactly the ones with illegal settling. Illegal settling is a danger in itself, because in real life for this families is understood as "temporary settling", as there are no formal guarantees that you stay there 5 years from now. And there is no more overlooked place (in maintenance, decoration, care, government accountabilty) than a temporary home. But, in practice, these poor families stay there for decades.

So the combination of the temporary mindset with permanent stay create horrible places to live. And that excluding the risk that a house built today might actually be taken from you tomorrow. But my deepest point is that even is not taken from you in decades, illegal settling is still a dangerous problem.

How do you deal with that?

Edit: aslafci (who answered this question below as a cofounder) comment is dead. Just FYI. Her answer is:

"aslafci 4 minutes ago [dead]

hi soneca, Great and important point that is top of mind as we scale. The homes are built on land that was granted to our nonprofit partner from the Haitian government for this purpose. Families will not only own the physical structures but the land it sits on as well. Alexandria (New Story Co-Founder)"

Hi soneca!

Re: Issue with land property: The Haitian government has issued this land for this purpose (home building). So the families will own the land as well as the physical structures. Our mission is to build as many self sustaining communities around the world and this is something that we are very proud of.

Thanks! --Matthew (Co-Founder of New Story)

hi soneca,

Great and important point that is top of mind as we scale. The homes are built on land that was granted to our nonprofit partner from the Haitian government for this purpose. Families will not only own the physical structures but the land it sits on as well.

Alexandria (New Story Co-Founder)

When you say you want to build homes that could last "10 to 15 years," why such a short amount of time? Note that I'm not being critical. I think what you're doing is fantastic. I ask because I assume that even a cheaply built wood framed home could easily last several decades. Is there a specific structural vs. cost tradeoff that you have decided to make?

hey Kevin - great question. We believe the homes actually WILL last for decades, there was a little confusion from the writer. The homes are built to Dade country and Broward county (south florida counties) standards.

This is a great idea. I did a lot of work with Habitat for Humanity and helping build homes is a powerful part of getting people out of poverty & into the workforce. How do you handle the production of the homes and do you have plans to improve that process?

Hi Frank! Thanks for the kind words.

We work with local partners that have been on the ground, know the area, and are excellent at what they do (aka their bread and butter - building homes). The real cool thing is that the homes are built using local labor so it's a win-win benefiting the local economy.

In the future, we'll scale using other local partners around the world. One thing in particular that we've implemented in Haiti to improve the process is turning their paper process to digital - HUGE difference in reporting and increasing efficiency.

--Matthew (Co-Founder of New Story)

Another similar question: How do you handle the purchasing of land? Do the recipients own the land?


The Haitian government supports this project and has issued the land for this purpose (home building) so the families will not only own the physical structures, but the land as well :)

--Matthew (Co-Founder of New Story)

I'll donate later this week. Great nonprofit. Question: do you feel there is added value to using the "all-or-nothing" crowd funding model? How would this be different from simply earmarked aggregated funds with individuals following the families they helped support?

Great work - what you are doing is amazing.

It strikes me that you have a very similar model to Watsi (which I am also a massive fan of).

I was wondering if you had any interest in extending your reach to the Pacific Islands. The islands are unfortunately constantly in varying states of disrepair and are regularly exposed to harsh environments, particularly tropical storms.

A recent example was cyclone Pam which resulted in a tremendous amount of devastation to Vanuatu.


I currently reside in New Zealand and wondered if there would possibly be any opportunities to work with you guys in any way to achieve such an objective (possibly through collaboration with local networks).

Hi Neuro!

Thanks for the kind words! We definitely take inspiration from Watsi and consider the comparison a great compliment!

We don't have plans to extend to the Pacific Islands in the near-term future - but the region is definitely in our sights. We ultimately plan to create self-sustaining communities globally.

If you have any insight on areas of extreme need (like Vanuatu) and/or fantastic local non-profit partners in the area, let's talk! alexandria@newstorycharity.org

Alexandria (New Story Co-Founder)

As someone who has been homeless, please let me know if I can help in any way in addition to donations. I don't have much time, but what you're doing is incredible

Hi Austen!

Thanks for the kind words. Sharing this story is a great/quick way to help.

We'd love to get your insight - I just emailed you from alexandria@newstorycharity.org

Alexandria (New Story Co-Founder)

How does your housing compare with what the Earthship crew brought to Haiti in 2010? http://earthship.com/haiti

Oh cool! So, our homes are constructed with reinforced concrete and built to US and Miami-Dade county standards.

The really awesome thing is that local Haitians from the community we work in are building the homes - a true boost to the local economy.

Check out the first family we helped move into their new home - newstorycharity.org/maria-rose :)

-- Matthew (Co-founder of New Story)

Not too shabby, thanks for the reply, and keep up the good work.

Will do! And if you wanna follow along our journey we'll just be over here twitter.com/newstorycharity

(1) For other families that you aren't able to help, how long would it take them to find alternative housing?

(2) What would that situation look like?


To give some context, all of the families we have funded (and about 80,000 Haitians) have remained homeless SINCE the earthquake in 2010. We cannot say with certainty the length of time it would take to find alternative housing, but their options are clearly scant to non-existent.

The situation for most families = thin tarp tents without access to basic sanitation. The heat is described as unbearable and blinding (literally) by our recipients and other dangers like rape, theft, and disease outbreak are rampant. Our concrete homes = safety, privacy, sanitation, and an environment that supports prosperity. We believe shelter is a human right and a critical component to poverty alleviation efforts.

Alexandria (New Story Co-Founder)

What plans do you have, if any, to address the growing number of homeless families in the United States?

Hi lsiebert!

We're focus on Haiti from now but our mission is to build as many self sustaining communities around the world as we can. One houses at a time. :)

Fantastic name, and congrats on the launch!

Thanks Alex! Yea, we love the name too :)

Feel free to check out how you can get involved! newstorycharity.org/birthdays


Thanks bra! Check out the first family we helped fund in their new home newstorycharity.org/maria-rose

Each donor gets a video of the EXACT family they helped fund in their new home #transparency

--Matthew (Co-Founder New Story) newstorycharity.org

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