We are seeing technology used more and more to do something about homelessness. The Department of Veterans Affairs announced within the last few days a new Innovation Initiative competition for an app that will "provide easy access to resources that the homeless need, when they need it, and where they can get it." Project Reach (Real-time Electronic Access for Caregivers and the Homeless) challenges contestants to create a free and accessible app that shares real-time information on where someone can meet basic needs such as a bed or place to eat. This tech competition comes on the heels of the South by Southwest Homeless Hotspots, the controversial digital take on a street newspaper model. Here I'll share a bit more on these two tech projects that address homelessness, along with a few more that have been around longer.
I am really excited to see technology making advocacy more accessible and government more accountable and transparent. The Sunlight Foundation is a leader in this way and Firesteel is using state legislative data through their Open States Project to match registered users to their legislators in their profile banner. But it gets better! Open States just released an iPhone app! The free mobile app provides up to the minute information on your state legislators' profiles, legislation being considered, voting records, and more. Allow me to share my excitement by walking through some of the features of Open State and the new mobile app.
"Do we know that hearing the story is sometimes not only enough but more than enough? Our coming to anyone as problem-solver can diminish their dignity and in fact diminishes ours as well. Being willing to listen enables something to develop that our strategies simply cannot accomplish. It is trust." The Rev. Bill Kirlin-Hackett shares his insight as a faith community member and inter-faith taskforce leader in the following post.
Firesteel is a statewide partnership with participating YWCAs from all over Washington. We are small organizations and we are really large organizations. We are in rural communities and urban ones. Some of us have lots of social media accounts and some of us have very few. Yet we all share the same mission and seek to empower women in our communities. The YWCA of Walla Walla is a relatively small organization serving a small community in Eastern Washington. While they have tremendous support locally and are efficient with existing resources, they hope to effect real change on a greater level through the Firesteel partnership. Kate Morrison, the Walla Walla YWCA contact shares why her YWCA is excited about Firesteel.
The Snohomish County Point in Time Homeless Count helps to ensure that vital federal and state funding continues to come into the community to fight and end homelessness. On January 26, 2012, many Point in Time volunteers are experiencing homelessness themselves. Hear one man's motivation for volunteering in addition to some reflections on how homeless counts differ across counties.