Online sharing network helps Seattle’s homelessBy WeCount
In 2015, extreme levels of homelessness led to the city of Seattle declaring a state of emergency. In January this year, 4,500 of the local population were living on the streets, 3,200 were in emergency shelters and 2,983 were in transitional housing. According to the One Night Count, which tracks the number of homeless people, the city showed an 84% increase in homelessness since 2011.
Graham Pruss understands all too well how job losses, medical bills or family problems can lead to homelessness fast – something he experienced himself when he was a teenager. He teamed up with Jonathan Sposato to develop WeCount, an online sharing network that allows Seattle residents to respond to homeless people’s needs and provide basic items like clothing and personal hygiene items. The items can be dropped off at over 30 designated sites in the city.
“Up to 90 percent of homeless people have smartphones or internet access through a library and Wi-Fi,” Sposato said. “Often this serves as a lifeline to keep them connected with friends, relatives and the community. WeCount now extends this existing lifeline to the rest of the community that wants to help.”
WeCount is available on a smartphone, as well as a website – accessible for free in the city’s libraries. The organisation also works with local agencies to post signs about the service in public places, emergency shelters and community service offices.
Since launching in June this year, representatives from 10 cities in the US contacted Sposato and Pruss to see if the model can be adapted to their own communities. The pair’s hope is that WeCount can one day be expanded to help those living on the streets in seeking resources to find transitional housing. Download the app via www.wecount.org
Image courtesy of Cinty lonescu
Last updated: 22nd of August, 2016