Imagine you’re walking home on a winter night, mumbling to yourself about the cold.
As you tighten your coat around you, something catches your eye: someone curled up in a doorway, clearly getting ready to spend the night there. You want to help, but you don’t know exactly what to do. Give them money? Food? What can you really do to help here?
With an estimated 600,000 Americans homeless on any given night, you’ve probably been in this situation before.
Which is why a group of Northern Kentucky University students teamed up with Strategies to End Homelessness to make an awesome new app to help: Street Reach.
Street Reach is a free app and website that helps easily connect homeless people in the Cincinnati area with the services they need — shelter, food, and clothing.
Here’s how it works:
If a community member sees someone on the street, they can use the app to enter information about the homeless person’s location and any identifying details. If they’re using the app from their phone, GPS information is included.
The app then notifies local partners like Strategies to End Homelessness to come help.
The app also makes it possible for homeless people to take matters into their own hands. If they have access to a phone or computer, they can request help for themselves.
Street Reach also doubles as a great educational tool on the issue of homelessness.
When you open the app for the first time, you get a pop-up notice with some sage advice on how to help in a way that upholds dignity and respect.
A handy sidebar includes a “Homelessness 101” with introductory info on homelessness and what Street Reach does to combat it. And if you need a reminder on what to do when you see someone in need, the FAQ gives a great rundown.
There’s a reason why many people don’t know how to respond when they see someone sleeping on the street:
They’re not trained on how to do it.
That’s what makes Street Reach so great: It allows concerned citizens to take action but leaves the work of intervening to trained professionals.
All while maintaining safety and respect for everyone involved.
This is just one of the latest innovative moves to address homelessness in Cincinnati.
Since its inception in 2007, Strategies to End Homelessness has been kicking some serious butt in its field. There’s been a 100% increase in the number of people served in supportive housing programs throughout the area, and they have a 92% success rate at keeping those most at-risk from entering homeless shelters or finding themselves on the streets.
The Street Reach app is only available in the Cincinnati area for now. But here’s hoping it inspires other cities & possibly even the world, to do something similar!