Grassroots Unwired Brings Unique Mobile Tech To the 2017 Homeless Census
Mobile software company Grassroots Unwired is teaming up with Continuums of Care (CoC) led by local non-profits to transition HUD’s (Housing and Urban Development) yearly homeless census from paper and clipboards to tablet powered mobile software. These “Point-in-Time” (PIT) counts typically take place late in January over one or several nights, and the results are used by HUD to determine funding levels for a community’s homeless advocacy problems.
The need for accurate data, collected efficiently was the driving force behind the technology built by Grassroots Unwired. Building on successful 2016 pilots in Houston and Philadelphia, Grassroots Unwired will be expanding its partnerships to areas in California and Indianapolis. In partnership with the Coalition for the Homeless in Houston, Project HOME and Valley Youth House in Philadelphia, Grassroots Unwired perfected a mobile app that allows volunteers to press and swipe answers to survey questions instead of fumbling with the a paper and clipboard at night.
This app not only digitizes the HUD driven survey but gives the site managers an ability to monitor volunteers who go on-site which helps insure safety and accurate data collection. The fact that the app works with or without a data connection means that volunteers can continue to do their work in low connectivity areas like subway stations.
After the count is over, days of manual data entry are eliminated because all the data collected in the field is databased in real time the night of the count. And with paper, there was always the possibility of a poorly written survey leading to disqualifying an individual from the count. Communities could lose large sums of public funding if their Homeless census data is not accurate.
HUD requires this data to be reported in order to determine public funding that gets provided to each community to support public programs. Non-Profits will train and send volunteers to Emergency Shelters; Transitional Housing Units; Rapid Re-housing Programs; Safe Haven’s; and Permanent Supportive Housing Programs along with known areas where unsheltered individuals live to perform the surveys. While the survey has some standard questions required by HUD, many non-profits offer additional services and use the customizable nature of the platform to design scripts that are specific to their own programs.
For Grassroots Unwired, the ability to build technology that can make a social impact is why the company was founded. Said CEO Russ Oster, “So many of these folks just need a helping hand. And if our technology, used by awesome organizations like Project Home, can speed up the delivery of that help, then we’re honored to be a part of the effort.”