James 🎧

James recorded his story about how One Degree changed his life.

Transcript has been edited slightly for privacy and clarity. Audio has been condensed for brevity.


One Degree: How did you find out about One Degree and how do you use it?

James: I’m James. I can’t remember exactly how I got involved with One Degree but I remember I was living at an SRO in San Francisco. I was going through surgeries and wanted to get Section 8. I went through a lot of different possibilities and dirty resources to get on the Mayor’s list here in the city. I remember seeing One Degree online, and having a phone call, and they were interested in helping me by giving me resources. This was years ago, when I was first getting all my transitional paperwork in order.

A good foundation set was in-house counselors where I was living. It was bare minimum and I knew I could do better. […] I was disabled, having just gotten on social security. I got in touch with a One Degree counselor, she’s an online pen pal friend, [One Degree staff member]. She was always there for me when I was running out of options or having stress and anxiety over what I should do next. […]

“One Degree was there with me the whole way. ”

It went kind of nice, I planned it well. But I had all these concerns about moving. I’d never done that before. I had to organize it anyway and I talked to [One Degree staff member]. Actually, we chatted on email quite often. She was always there. She was like this little motivational guide behind me. She’s like, “Have you done this yet?” And I was like, “My God! She caught me again.” So, I will go back and redo it and I’ll always find another resource.

Catholic Charities here in the city had so much there for people even more down than I was. They could have taken resources and done what I did. My social security is a little higher than the average GA, so I could afford to start putting a little money away. I saved up just $500 for moving expenses and it turned out to be perfect because the moving company had a truck. It was $300 for 2 hours minimum. Bingo. […]

And [One Degree staff member] was always there behind me. She was like, “Have you done this yet?” And she’ll always keep on me. So, One Degree was a big part of my transition. I had to say it was very positive. Very positive. If there’s anybody in the city that finds themselves homeless, the smart thing to do is take on some personal responsibility, and look for the resources available because they’re for real. All you have to do is ask and if it’s at all possible, they’re going to do what they can to make it happen for you. I’m really happy I met you guys.

One Degree: How would you describe One Degree to your family or friends if they were looking for resources? What would you tell them?

James: I would say One Degree has a wealth of resources that can apply towards any area. I even mentioned to [One Degree staff member] about glasses, she gave me all these references where I can get free glasses, and how I can get to the vision procurement at San Francisco General Hospital which I have now. She even hooked me up with massage and acupuncture after I told her I needed pain relievers. She gave me a list of places to look up at the city, some sliding scale and others free. Absolutely free. I never got a chance to take advantage of [some of] those because I was going through surgeries but I did go along her lines of recommendation and hooked up with acupuncture for pain relief. I would have never looked in those avenues if it hadn’t been for suggestions from One Degree. It really worked out well for me.

One Degree: Did you know these resources even existed when you started?

James: No clue. I’ve ventured the city for over 30 years but I never had to look for it. People don’t know what’s out there and I’m sure it’s really expensive to advertise to a market that really doesn’t know or have media exposure or watch TV. I guess it had to be word of mouth, which is pretty good.

One Degree: Tell us a little bit more about how you were feeling starting your journey and transition to housing. How did having One Degree make you feel?

James: It was really scary in the beginning. I felt like I’m doing this for no reason, giving out all this information, putting effort, etc. I really wanted to get out of where I was but I was on the street in the beginning. I got off the street and started to wise up.

I was scared. I didn’t know if things were going to happen the way I thought they would. I knew I was going to have to wait. One Degree stayed in constant contact with me. I was out of contact because my computer blew up. I kind of fried it but I got it fixed after a while. Then, [One Degree staff member] was right there again with, “Hey, I haven’t heard from you in a long time.” It was like a friend I didn’t know I had.

So, One Degree made me feel like there was actually someone out there that cared. It was a motivation that 11 o’clock at night, I can go back and read the email as say, “Hmmm. This is something I gotta do tomorrow morning.” And I’ll always give [One Degree staff member] updates and things worked out.

One Degree: What would you say are some of the unique things about One Degree versus any other way that you’ve used to find resources or get help?

James: The speed and accuracy of response. I can ask a question on the chat at 1 o’clock in the morning and know they will see it and respond the next day with a list of options and recommendations. It’s never just one, they share like four or five resources based on your need. You can browse through and get information to make your own choice. It’s always quick and concise, which is very useful.

One Degree: Can you summarize what the change has been like? What was your life like before and after One Degree?

James: Is there anything better than excellent? I have changed my whole life around. I’m shaving now, not so good but… I used to have long hair and I’m keeping it cut. I’ve been clean and sober now for over four years. Clean and sober is not a requirement for Section 8 though, anybody that has a problem can just ask for help and you’ll get it one way or another. You really will. I chose, before I even signed up for Section 8, to get clean and sober. It was just time and I’m glad I did. I’m glad I met people at One Degree, they helped me with choices I never knew I had. […]

I’m living in the Northern California Presbyterian Homes and Services building. Newly remodeled. It’s beautiful apartments.

Anyone can do it. All they have to do is just be a little bit responsible and ask someone for help. And One Degree was there with me the whole way.

Thank you, folks.


When we asked Estella what she does for work, she proudly explained that she works for a prosthetic company and gets to interact with patients who have lost limbs or had a mastectomy. “It’s really rewarding to see patients feel better,” she said. However, when Estella isn’t at work, she does what she calls her second job – taking care of her father. He has had multiple health issues in the last few years, and Estella has had a hard time securing housing for him.

“I was looking for something more reliable and safer. Then I found One Degree.”

Before finding One Degree, Estella was getting frustrated by the out-of-date and inaccurate information that she was finding in her internet searches. Phone numbers and email addresses for social service organizations were either out of order or no one responded to her, and she was starting to get desperate. However, after discovering One Degree through Google, Estella was immediately thrilled to see that listings on One Degree are constantly being verified and updated. “I was finding a lot of people lying and I was looking for something more reliable and safer. Then I found One Degree,” she said.

By using One Degree, Estella was able to get in contact with Bridge Housing and place her father on a housing waitlist for seniors. Knowing her father will have a safe roof over his head, Estella will be able to regain some of her independence and give her fullest to the job she loves. She’s now been using One Degree for about 6 months, and she is relieved that she now has a place to find safe, reliable information and resources to help her father.

Since our last check-in, Estella’s admired how One Degree remains easy to use. Recently, she was able to sign up for the San Leandro Rent Relief Program and obtained assistance with move-in costs from ECHO.


Maryanne was living in her family home in Los Angeles County until her mother, unfortunately, passed away, and she and her brother were evicted from the home by their oldest brother. As she and her brother are both seniors, they were now faced with the difficult task of finding affordable senior housing in a safe and secure environment.

“You have an amazing list of agencies that offer help.”

The Salvation Army directed Maryanne and her brother to One Degree, and she was able to use legal resources she found on One Degree to guide her and her brother through fair housing issues as well as issuing a Temporary Restraining Order on their oldest brother. Maryanne says she is very satisfied with One Degree’s services, and that she would absolutely recommend One Degree to a friend.


Janette is a young mother and former foster youth living in San Francisco. She is currently a student at City College in San Francisco and working on building her resume so she can find employment to support her family. In between caring for her son and being in school, Janette also attends parenting classes to improve her skills.

Janette discovered One Degree through her case worker at a San Francisco-based nonprofit that helps foster youth work towards financial and social independence. Janette has been an active member since.

As a busy student and mother, Janette needs a variety of resources to help make ends meet. She’s used One Degree to find job search assistance, housing, and food for herself and her infant son.

During her search for long-term housing, Janette was able to quickly identify potential resources by searching on the One Degree mobile app. She liked that she can quickly see the address and open hours for housing opportunities. She also loved that she can leave a rating so others like her can make an informed decision about accessing resources.


Many things changed for Jeronimo when he immigrated as an unaccompanied minor to San Francisco from Guerrero, Mexico. As a senior in high school, Jeronimo was balancing school, college applications, a part-time pizza delivery job and an internship, all without the help of a traditional family support system.

Jeronimo dreamed of becoming a civil engineer, but it was difficult just getting by in the Bay Area with its high cost of living and challenging affordable housing market.

Jeronimo learned about One Degree at school and used the platform to find and use free SAT classes, scholarships, and other programs that helped him build a path to college.

Thanks in part to the support he got through One Degree, Jeronimo graduated from high school and started attending San Jose State University. He is able to live on campus and completely focus on his studies because of the scholarships he discovered on One Degree.

Jeronimo has since become a One Degree evangelist, helping classmates access everything from affordable housing to immigration services – all through One Degree. He had become a kind of “go-to” guy for new immigrants among his fellow students, friends and other community members. They often reach out to ask for help finding housing contacts, job leads or advice in general.

When a good family friend arrived from Guerrero, he asked Jeronimo for help finding a job. Jeronimo immediately pulled out his phone and made a quick search for job search programs on One Degree. Thanks to the leads he found through the site, his friend secured a job within just one week.

“It felt so good to be able to help my friend,” said Jeronimo. “He was super thankful. I was very busy dealing with finals at school and scholarship interviews, at the time, so I would not have been able to help him if it wasn’t for One Degree.”


“I was recently accepted into a summer program I found through One Degree”

In 2014, sixteen-year-old Marisa was a high school student living in San Francisco’s Sunset District. Her parents, immigrants from China, struggled to navigate the complex web of social services available in San Francisco. Tech-savvy Marisa was looking for a way to easily sort through the maze of resources. And then she found One Degree through one of our street outreach events.

Marisa used One Degree to find and sign up for a summer program at the Richmond Village Beacon Center, which is dedicated to achieving positive outcomes for San Francisco youth by bridging the gap between the community and schools. Through the program Marisa got a taste for the medical field. Marisa went on to use One Degree to find a program that helped her apply to college.

“I was recently accepted into a summer program I found through One Degree… The site has already proven extremely useful,” said Marisa. We heard later that she was accepted into college and studying medicine.

David 🎧

David recorded his story about how One Degree helped him with his employment search and in seeking help with domestic violence.

Audio has been condensed for brevity.


Shannon lives in the Bayview District in San Francisco with her teenage son. She discovered One Degree in 2014, during a community event in Balboa, when her son was 9-years-old. She used One Degree to find her son’s first summer program and now uses it on an ongoing basis. One Degree has been her go-to tool for finding activities for her son – and sometimes his friends. She now recommends One Degree to other parents.

We last saw Shannon at a family event at the Bayview YMCA, where she was browsing resources and picking up food from the food bank with her son and his friend. She heard volunteers talking to other families about One Degree and, even though she was in a hurry, she came over to quickly share with them all how much she loved One Degree.

“I love One Degree. I go all the time. It’s great to be able to find educational options for my kid.”


Tiffany is a full-time student and working mother of two boys. As a former foster youth, she has taken part in programs like Guardian Scholars, which helps former foster youth excel academically with guidance and resources. Foster youth experience a greater risk of dropping out of school than non-foster youth, and even those who graduate high school are unlikely to go to college. Programs like Guardian Scholars are working to address this inequality and give foster youth the tools they need to succeed in school and beyond.

When Tiffany discovered One Degree, she was looking for affordable housing, food, and resources for her kids. “One Degree was very informational by giving numerous resources that helped. Just a few weeks ago I was interested in looking for a baseball team or sports camp for my oldest son. One Degree gave great results that were very useful,” she said.

Tiffany appreciates how easy it is to use the site and wants to make sure other people know about it. “This site is very resourceful and easy to navigate through. I will be telling more people about it!”


Karla Ortiz and her children lost their housing and were living on the streets for around two months when they were connected to an organization called Union Station Homeless Services. Karla was provided with a security deposit that would help cover the first few months of rent. With this timely aid, Karla’s family has been able to shelter in various motels throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

In those months where Karla and her family experienced homelessness and Karla was not able to cook, the family had to largely rely on fast food or other nonprofit food resources. With the recommendation of a coworker that had previously found One Degree helpful, Karla started to use the One Degree mobile app offline to find retailers that accepted Electronic Benefit Transfers (EBT.)

“I just want to emphasize how it (One Degree) really comes in handy when I did not have service, when my kids and I were in the street….”

Karla also relied on the mobile app to find food banks, free toiletries, and opportunities that would provide activities for her children. Today, she is still utilizing the One Degree app, along with Zillow, Facebook, and Craigslist to search for long-term affordable housing. Karla wants other community members to know about One Degree because she thinks it gives people great awareness on how much assistance there is out there for people in similar situations.


“One Degree is an organization that supports in a humane way. From my heart, I thank you infinitely for the help you are giving me.”

Like many others during the COVID-19 outbreak, Carlos found himself suddenly unemployed when the restaurant he had been working for was forced to close. He wasn’t able to receive unemployment benefits due to his immigration status, and he was struggling to find a new job while also supporting his wife in the education of their children at home. One day, Carlos received a message from LA Health about unemployment benefits, and when he responded to them they referred him to One Degree. He reached out to us for help, and we were able to refer him to several resources using our COVID-19 Resource Guide

Although he faced significant obstacles such as lack of Spanish translation support and extremely long waiting times, Carlos never gave up hope and kept persevering. Eventually, his resiliency paid off and he was able to find the help he needed. Door of Hope was able to provide financial assistance for 3 months of rent, and he was also able to receive other financial support from Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants and Mission Asset Fund.

Although not all of Carlos’s worries have been solved, he is very grateful to One Degree and to the organizations where we referred him. He says that without One Degree he wouldn’t have access to help, and he hopes that those who receive help can pass that along to others that need it, too. 

“One Degree es una organización que apoya de forma humana. De corazón agradezco infinitamente la ayuda que me están brindando.”

Como muchos otros durante el brote de COVID-19, Carlos se encontró de repente desempleado cuando el restaurante que él había estado trabajando fue obligado a cerrar. Él no pudo recibir beneficios de desempleo debido a su estatus migratorio, y él estaba luchando a encontrar un nuevo trabajo mientras también apoyando su esposa en la educación de sus hijos en casa. Un día, Carlos recibió un mensaje de LA Health sobre beneficios de desempleo, y cuando él les respondió a ellos lo refirieron a One Degree. Se conectó con nosotros en busca de ayuda, y nosotros pudimos referirlo a varios recursos utilizando nuestro Guía de Recursos de COVID-19.

El se enfrentó obstáculos significativos como la falta de apoyo a la traducción al Español y tiempos de espera extremadamente largos, Carlos nunca dejó esperanza y siguió preservando. Eventualmente, su resiliencia valió la pena y él pudo encontrar la ayuda que necesitaba. Door of Hope pudo proporcionar asistencia financiera por tres meses de alquiler, y él también pudo recibir otro asistencia financiera  Disaster Relief Assistance for ImmigrantsMission Asset Fund.

Aunque, no todas las preocupaciones de Carlos han sido resuelto, él está muy agradecido a One Degree y a las organizaciones donde fue remitido. Él dice que sin One Degree él no tendría acceso a la ayuda, y él espera que aquellos que reciben ayuda puedan transmitir eso a otros que necesitan.


When Jonathan isn’t making his own digital art he’s busy running a gallery in Los Angeles that advocates for affordable housing in the Arts District. But when he first contacted One Degree, Jonathan was looking for housing assistance of his own. Jonathan and his girlfriend were having trouble making ends meet, and they weren’t sure how to get help paying their rent.

When Jonathan discovered One Degree he was able to speak in real time with a member of our team who gave him the tools to find what he was looking for. Through One Degree Jonathan was able to find veteran benefits that gave him the financial assistance he needed, and he was able to keep his apartment.

A member of our team followed up with Jonathan to see how his search had been going, and he explained, “the search you started me on led me to a list of benefits for vets and I discovered that because I served in wartime, I am eligible for a pension.” While One Degree helped him along the path, Jonathan took the next steps on his own to claim the benefit he never knew he had been eligible for.


“I would not feel as supported without One Degree.”

EJ found herself in need of child care. Having been referred to One Degree by a specialist she was able to use the platform to find three different programs. She is currently working with one of the programs, Beanstalk, to have her child enrolled.

Her recent move to a new county was also made easier by One Degree’s ability to help her find medical specialists near her area. During the pandemic, EJ always felt well-informed due to the emails that One Degree would send her, informing her of the resources available to her.

EJ has been using One Degree for a year now and she hopes once the process of acquiring child care is settled, she will be able to find educational opportunities for herself.

“No me sentiría tan apoyado sin One Degree. ”

EJ se encontró necesitando cuidado infantil. Habiendo sido referida a One Degree por un especialista, pudo usar la plataforma para encontrar tres programas diferentes. Actualmente está trabajando con uno de los programas, Beanstalk, para inscribir a su hijo.

Su reciente mudanza a un nuevo condado también se vio facilitada por la capacidad de One Degree para ayudarla a encontrar especialistas médicos cerca de su área. Durante la pandemia, EJ siempre se sintió bien informada debido a los correos electrónicos que le enviaba One Degree, informándole de los recursos disponibles para ella.

EJ ha estado usando One Degree durante un año y espera que una vez que se establezca el proceso de adquirir cuidado infantil, pueda encontrar oportunidades educativas para sí misma.


“I greatly appreciate how One Degree is bilingual to support the Spanish-speaking community. ”

Lisa is a passionate self-learner and is grateful to have obtained opportunities to expand her skills. She attended adult school in Santa Clara to learn English and completed her dental assisting program as she worked as a fast-food employee. She felt so proud to help her partner and add to their savings account.

She welcomed a beautiful baby boy in 2019 but had to rest at home until delivery to reduce complications with her pregnancy. Unfortunately, as she was in the process of returning to work, the pandemic began and it caused concerns for her own and newborns health – her family decided to put a pause to those plans.

Lisa searched for ways to support her small family and was able to find One Degree while searching on her mobile phone. She obtained assistance in applying for social services from the Korean American Community Services (KACS) and has enrolled in CalFresh. At the moment, she is looking for online educational opportunities to become a medical assistant.

“Aprecio enormemente cómo One Degree es bilingüe para apoyar a la comunidad que habla español.”

Lisa es apasionada del autoay está agradecida de haber obtenido oportunidades para expandir sus habilidades. Asistió a una escuela para adultos en Santa Clara para aprender inglés y completó su programa de asistencia dental mientras trabajaba como empleada de comida rápida. Se sintió muy orgullosa de ayudar a su pareja y agregar dinero a su cuenta de ahorros.

Dio la bienvenida a un hermoso bebé en 2019, pero tuvo que descansar en casa hasta el parto para reducir las complicaciones de su embarazo. Desafortunadamente, cuando estaba en el proceso de regresar al trabajo, la pandemia comenzó y causó preocupación por su salud y la de los recién nacidos; su familia decidió poner en pausa esos planes.

Lisa buscó formas de mantener a su pequeña familia y pudo encontrar One Degree buscando en su teléfono móvil. Obtuvo ayuda para solicitar servicios sociales de Korean American Community Services (KACS) y se inscribió en CalFresh. Por el momento, está buscando oportunidades educativas en línea para convertirse en asistente médica.


Seisha is a young mom of two beautiful girls living in East Palo Alto in Silicon Valley. When Seisha and her family faced a major rent increase that threatened their housing situation, Seisha looked to One Degree for helpful resources. “I was able to go to the site, look up ‘rent increase rights’ and be led to the right resources to find out what my rights as a tenant are.”

With two active girls and attending school herself, Seisha doesn’t have a lot of time to navigate the web to look for all the things she needs for her family. With the sky-high cost of living in the Bay Area, Seisha found resources on One Degree that helped her stay in her home and make ends meet without a major time investment.

“It’s nice to go to the [One Degree] site and have options for good nutrition, health, and hospital resources. It’s a one stop shop that makes it easy for families and parents.” Seisha says she likes that there are all kinds of resources on One Degree, including many that aren’t necessarily well known. She’s even used One Degree to help another family she knows find food resources. “It was nice to be able to do some of the research for them and then present options to them as well.”

Audio has been condensed for brevity.