Homeless Services for the East Bay

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Client:   Dorothy Day House

In the East Bay of the 21st century, finding free wifi can be easier than finding housing and food. Many homeless people have a smartphone and some access to the Internet, but need help finding social services such as a food bank open today, or a social worker or free clinic open tomorrow. Homeless Connection aims to fill this gap.

East Bay Homeless Connection is a mobile-optimized website, enabling users to find social services such as walk-in clinics, social services, food, and shelter.  Our Executive Director Dan Rademacher saw the need for Homeless Connection over more than a decade volunteering at a homeless breakfast program in Berkeley. Though many homeless people, particularly younger people, have second-hand smartphones and ready access to free WiFi, information about social services was still distributed mostly by printed signs posted at service providers or desktop-only websites.

The Homeless Connection interface is intended to load quickly over minimal data plans and poor reception, with a lean feature set that functions well on old handed-down devices.

The data are directly managed by Dorothy Day House volunteers—most themselves homeless—using the free tier of a service called AirTable. Working with AirTable provided some easy approaches and some technical challenges. The AirTable back-end interface allows DDH volunteers to easily manage the data, tagging each location with its open hours and days, services offered, and map location. Though it has some limitations, the AirTable API made a quick and easy path to program the website for fetching data. 

GreenInfo created East Bay Homeless Connections free of charge.

Focus:   Human Services, Philanthropy, Public Health, Social Justice/Equity  

Services:  Interactive Solutions, GIS Services, Communications, Strategy, Data, Applications Development, Web Mapping, Mobile Applications 

Project Years: 2017 - ongoing

GreenInfo Network creates, analyzes, visualizes and communicates information in the public interest. We specialize in mapping and related technology for nonprofits and public agencies, focusing on using it for conservation, social equity, public health, environment and foundation grant making.
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