Fighting homelessness with technology seems to be a trend this month.
On the heels of an effort to equip homeless people with 4G routers, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, in conjunction with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Jon Bon Jovi’s Soul Foundation, has launched a project to create an app to fight the national issue of homeless veterans.
The organizations have launched Project REACH (Real-time Electronic Access for Caregivers and the Homeless), an app-creation contest, which asks mobile and website developers to create an app that will help homeless veterans find health clinics, food banks and housing.
“We all use tablets, smartphones, laptops to check the scores of games. … What if we could use the technology to help the homeless people on the corner,” Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan said in a meeting with journalists.
The project is now calling on the help of application developers to create an app that would help connect homeless people with medical care, shelter and food banks. The app is meant for volunteers, rather than the actual homeless individuals, because many of them don’t have phones themselves.
Bon Jovi was very clear about that point during the meeting: “The expectation here is that we reach caregivers and volunteers [with the app]. Say, if you are out on a street team, for example.”
He explained that he sees the need for this sort of app everyday at the Soul Kitchen, his restaurant in New Jersey that serves free food to those who cannot afford it.
The app competition begins March 22 and finalists will be announced in August. The grand prize winner will be awarded $25,000 Nov. 9, the same day that volunteers should have another tool in their digital charity belts to help homeless veterans on the streets.