Finding Solutions to Homelessness through Widening the Impact

by Steven Ehlinger, CFO, GET HELP®

The responsiveness of the entire GET HELP team has helped the company leverage its internal cultural capital and expand its social capital with the City of Los Angeles to create a widening impact with the GET HELP business model.

The responsiveness of the entire GET HELP team has helped the company leverage its internal cultural capital and expand its social capital with the City of Los Angeles to create a widening impact with the GET HELP business model. This response has opened an even greater positioning of GET HELP to serve the variety of emergency response scenarios that cities, counties, and regions face periodically.

As a California Benefit Corporation, it is part of GET HELP’s mission to create a positive impact in the world and the markets it serves. As part of embracing this impact orientation, GET HELP has adopted the MetaImpact Framework to help further define the types of impact we are creating in the world and how to best measure these impacts. The Framework identifies four distinct types of impact that can be fostered: Deep Impact, Clear Impact, Wide Impact, and High Impact. Each of these types of impact align with different types of capital.

The specific focus of Wide Impact is to create a positive Change in Stakeholder Relationships. The two forms of capital associated with widening impact are Social Capital and Cultural Capital, which are aligned with Purpose and Planet in a quadruple bottom-line approach to business. GET HELP stepping up to support a homeless response to the recent COVID-19 pandemic provided a unique opportunity to uplevel and create a positive Change in Stakeholder Relationships both socially and culturally. Specific Stakeholders involved in this initiative included: City of Los Angeles (Mayor’s Office, ITA, HOPE Officers, Department of Sanitation, Case Workers, and COVID-19 Response Team), GET HELP (Product Team, Data Management Team, Customer Success Team, and Account Management Team) and, in particular, those experiencing homelessness and their loved ones, including pets in some cases. The implementation of GET HELP’s facility management tools and mobile search tools enabled the City of Los Angeles to quickly stand up twenty-eight emergency shelters to serve those who experience homelessness and provide real-time bed availability to municipal first responders for efficient and effective placement of individuals into the emergency shelters.

Social Capital

The range and variety of social connections with others.

GET HELP’s participation with the City of Los Angeles truly incorporates the full range of Social Capital and, most importantly, provides a demonstration of the power of creating valued relationships, from municipal departments to homeless populations. The coming together in shared action improves connections between the various stakeholder groups and builds a trusted framework for those experiencing homelessness to turn to in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our hopes are that this cultivation of Social Capital creates a powerful enough demonstration of measurable outcomes that we can continue to widen our overall impact with other initiatives with the City of Los Angeles.

Cultural Capital

The internal and external processes of shared meaning making of a community.

The opportunity to engage at such a civic level as part of a response solution drew heavily on a range of Cultural Capital including ethnic diversity, shared values, and worldviews. The coming together of the various Stakeholders drawing on their respective Cultural Capital creates Community Coherence that allows for greater responsiveness and provides evidence of the desire to serve those most deeply in need and, in turn, strengthen the relationships between the various stakeholder groups participating.

GET HELP is grateful for the opportunity to widen its impact by changing stakeholder relationships for the better. The opportunity to create a wider impact is even more gratifying as we begin to evaluate, through various assessment lenses, the relationships that were cultivated or improved, the multiplication of improvements resulting from multi-stakeholder participation, and the overall social impact that has been created by this diverse group of public and private stakeholders.

This brings us to one of the most important fundamentals of being an impact-oriented company: that of producing measurable results, not just bottom-line results, but measurable impact results. At the most practical level of observation and measurement, it’s clear that the twenty-eight emergency shelters met a critical need, with nearly 2,000 beds being over 90 percent occupied in very short order and staying this way for several weeks to meet the needs of those experiencing homelessness during the pandemic. Beyond this, the work ahead will be to capture the positive impacts that affected stakeholder relationships in the form of surveys, interviews, and social impact assessment results. By definition, these are more difficult to measure as they are in the subjective realm of what has been undertaken in this effort but offer valuable insights as to the qualitative aspects that when married to the quantitative produce amazing outcomes.

If you’d like to assist in widening the impact of GET HELP in your community, please contact us at

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