New app lets you help the homeless like never before as you pass - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

New app lets you help the homeless like never before as you pass by

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KHQ.COM - Imagine walking by a homeless person and immediately getting an alert to your phone that gives you a profile on who that person is and a list of the material items they need most. An app called StreetChange does just that hoping "to build community, invite action and bring people together around solutions for a better world" and those in our homeless community.

The app lets users make small donations towards items most needed by the homeless like clothing, transit vouchers and toiletries and here's how it works:

  • In order for a homeless person to be registered on the app, they must first meet with a caseworker, complete a survey and identify long-term housing goals and necessary steps to reach them. Once they've completed the survey, a caseworker creates a profile for them, explaining who they are and what 10-15 items they are most in need of.
  • Once a homeless person is registered, they receive a small, plastic Blutetooth connected beacon that alerts app users every time they pass a homeless person in need.
  • Smartphone users can download the app anywhere in the U.S., but homeless people have to be registered in their community and keep their small Bluetooth connected devices with them at all times in order for alerts to work in individual communities.
  • App users can read the bios and see the list of needed items before choosing to donate to the person. They can donate an amount as low as $1 towards any item on the list.
  • Once an item is paid in full, it is sent to the caseworker where the homeless person meets to pick it up.

"The goal is to not only have an individual pick up their socks today, but to also come back tomorrow. And when they come back tomorrow maybe we can also start to develop a recovery goal plan for this individual," says Evan Figueroa-Vargas with the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Currently, the app is being used to help the homeless in Philadelphia, but the apps creators, Andrew Siegel and Dan Treglia, both researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, hope it spreads across the country. They say "great things happen when people connect for good."

Go to http://www.streetchangephilly.org to get involved.
 

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