How Technology is Helping the Homeless

Published By: Shafiqul Bhuiya

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Technology continues to change the lives of countless individuals across the world. Every few years it seems, a new technology comes about that drastically changes the way we live our lives, from the rise of the internet to the advent of social media. This powerful effect, engendered by technology, seems to permeate many facets of life, and impacts various groups of individuals. In this blog post, we will explore how the power of technology has been harnessed to positively impact homeless individuals and improve their lives as well as future potential benefits.

Research has shown that, in areas such as Dallas, Texas, upwards of 70% of the homeless population have access to mobile phones or Wi-Fi. Mobile devices have become a critical resource for the homeless population. Through the use of mobile devices, the homeless population is able to stay connected with family and friends for support, contact potential employers, and stay connected with social workers. It allows homeless individuals to stay within a network of support. Additionally, mobile devices, along with free WI-FI, allow homeless individuals to stay connected to the internet in an increasingly digital age. Currently, many applications for housing, jobs, and social services have to be done online, which creates a major disadvantage for those without access to the internet. The increased use of mobile devices, along with internet access, can help alleviate that barrier.

In addition to the obvious benefits, access to mobile devices open the door to create innovative solutions to help the homeless population. That is exactly what one non-profit, OurCalling, has done. OurCalling has created an app that consolidates information on many of the services that homeless individuals need.  On the app, they have a database of over 200 resources that the homeless population can access. For example, they have a list of all of the nearby shelters to streamline locating a shelter. Furthermore, they allow the shelters to communicate with each other to allow for better support of the community. The app also has a feature that allows individuals to report homeless camp locations, which aids OurCalling’s search and rescue team to provide critical assistance.

Technology has also allowed for more innovative solutions for the homeless community. The city of Austin, Texas has launched an initiative that allows homeless individuals to own digital, blockchain based, identification. Utilizing blockchain technology, homeless individuals can have access to their identification and other important documents in a format that is difficult to lose or steal. This will allow homeless individuals to easily keep track of their important documents, which they may need to utilize a variety of critical resources, such as housing and food stamps.

Even though technology has been of great benefit to the homeless population, more can still be done. Affordable housing is still the number one solution for the homeless population, however searching for affordable properties and their requirements can sometimes be an arduous and time-consuming task. With the lack of unified or trusted services as well as many qualification hoops to jump through, inefficient search for housing can lead to missed opportunities for housing or services. By leveraging technology, we can create a more efficient system that streamlines the process, which will reduce barriers for homeless individuals.

Technology has allowed us to drastically improve our quality of life. Its positive effect can also be utilized to tackle issues surrounding homelessness. From mobile devices, apps that detail resources, to digital identification, technology can help improve the lives of homeless individuals and ultimately lift them out of homelessness altogether.


About the author
Shafiqul Bhuiya
Shafiqul Bhuiya is a Bangladeshi-American from Bronx, New York. He has graduated with a Masters in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Central Florida and aspires to become a Physician Assistant. He is currently working as a Molecular Technologist in Infectious Disease testing. Shafiqul enjoys exercising, playing video games, and volunteering with Project Downtown Orlando during his free time. He believes in the power of proper healthcare and the hope it can bring to people in need.

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