Del Seymour grew up on the streets of San Francisco, where he spent 12 years of his life homeless yet determined to do something about it. He was tired of "all talk and no action," so Seymour took it upon himself to create a solution to a problem that plagued his youth.
Seymour's idea of a solution to homelessness isn't centered around finding immediate housing or a source of food, contradicting the "housing first" mentality that many people in the city believe is the answer, he said. Seymour's solution is employment.
"A lot of people want to stick it on mental illness, which is a part of it," Seymour said in an interview. "They stick it on social issues, and that's a part of it. They stick it on criminal background, and that's a part of it. But the real deal is employment. ... You cannot go and rent a decent house without employment. You have to pay for that house."
Last September Seymour formed Code Tenderloin, an incubator that takes participants through either a job readiness program, where students build a resume and prepare for job interviews, or a coding bootcamp, where students are taught front-end web development.
Since its launch, Code Tenderloin has sent more than 60 people back to work by way of partnerships with tech companies such as Zendesk, Airbnb, Dolby and Uber. Instead of viewing the tech companies as the "bad guys," Seymour said he was thinking of ways to work with them — ways to form relationships that would benefit everyone in San Francisco — as they flocked to the city around 2012.
The gap between the rich and the poor intensified quickly as the offices of Spotify, Square, Twitter and Yammer flooded San Francisco's Tenderloin and South of Market neighborhoods, some of the city's poorest and most underdeveloped areas at the time. Seymour saw an opportunity to bridge the divide and has worked ever since to bring the two parties together.