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Miracle Messages nonprofit continues to change the lives of former unhoused persons

Miracle Messages nonprofit continues providing support to formerly unhoused people
Miracle Messages nonprofit continues providing support to formerly unhoused people 04:12

His nonprofit launched one of the largest privately-funded programs giving unhoused people a basic income in the Bay Area. The groundbreaking program founded by Kevin Adler, a 2018 Jefferson Award winner, is making a difference.

We were there a year ago when Adler met Andres at an Oakland homeless shelter. Recently, Andres shared a hug with Adler, a man who's changed his life.

"I've seen Andres in a much better spot than a year ago," said Adler.

Adler's Miracle Messages nonprofit connects unhoused people like Andres with family members for support. Years ago, Andres was recovering from four surgeries after he fell while scaling the wall at the Mexican border.

Andres was randomly chosen as one of more than 100 people in the Bay Area and Los Angeles to get $750 in monthly income for a year to use as they saw fit.

A year later, Andres said that basic income was a blessing that he used to buy a bicycle to get around as he looked for a job and awaited his turn on the government housing list.  

He's bought clothes and food, helped with family emergencies, and gave to those with even less.

"Occasionally, he saw people on the street who didn't have anything to eat, he gave his money to other people," Adler translated for Spanish-speaking Andres.

Adler says a study of the basic income recipients shows they spent more than a third of the money on food, followed by housing, transportation, and health care.

Fewer remained unsheltered.

"After six months of $750 a month - just 6 months - that number went from 30% down to 12%," said Adler.

As part of the program, Adler and Andres formed a friendship, and are now like family. Adler gave Andres an invitation to his wedding.

Andres also found his long-lost mother in Texas. He never knew if she made it to the U.S. alive after she fled Honduras 39 years ago. Adler was able to reconnect mother and son by phone.

"He was crying, she was crying. She was apologizing, saying don't worry. I love you, Mom, don't feel bad, don't feel sorry," Adler translated.

Andres now talks with his mother every day. And she's helping care for his grandson in Texas.

The joy of their reunion fuels Adler's mission.

"We should see our unhoused neighbors not as problems to be solved but as people to be loved," said Adler. "My hope and vision is that no one goes through homelessness alone."

Next, he plans for Andres and his mother to meet for their first in-person visit in decades.

Adler, who authored the book When We Walk By, is partnering with USC on the basic income program. They hope to have final results on the impact of the year-long program by the end of the year.

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