5 cool ideas to make navigating the city's homelessness services easier - Generocity Philly

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Sep. 15, 2016 1:00 pm

5 cool ideas to make navigating the city’s homelessness services easier

At our first Blueprint: Homelessness event, local service providers convened to discuss one of our city's biggest problems. Here's what they came up with.

Brainstorming at Blueprint.

(Photo by Mo Manklang)

Full Disclosure: This was updated with further event details, including the event partner and location.
Homelessness is one of the world’s wicked problems that our city may never solve.

It’s making some serious strides to do so and has a hell of a lot of nonprofit and government agencies working on different facets of the issue. But it’s difficult to know how to navigate the myriad service providers — both for those seeking help, and those working in the field who want to collaborate with others.

As one nonprofit executive director put it: If the providers don’t understand their own network, how do the people who needs its services understand it?

At our Blueprint: Homelessness event, held yesterday in partnership with social services nonprofit RHD at Pennovation Works in Southwest Philly, we convened about 60 passionate Philadelphians to brainstorm ways to better manage homelessness in our city. Spoiler: It will take a lot of coordination and a lot of money.

Here are five of the many cool ideas our attendees discussed to solve some problems within the continuum of care, either for providers or individuals.

  1. Geographical map of service providers — A map of where nearby providers’ officers are located and what services they offer, displayed at transit stops or Indego docks
  2. Hackathon with service providers, the city and university students — Providers intro small-scale problems they’re trying to solve at a city-coordinated event, and local students take the weekend to develop technological solutions
  3. A local verson of “psychs on bikes — Psychiatric professionals bike to meet people who need their services where they are — say, on a bench in Rittenhouse Square Park — to conduct a counseling session and deliver the person’s medication
  4. Homelessness risk calculator — An app or website into which anyone can enter financial information such as their salary, rent and student loans to get a picture of how easily they might become homeless in the case of, say, a major medical emergency
  5. Formal coalitions and more conversations — This is self-explanatory, but there aren’t enough formal convenings of providers. There need to be more conversations at every level of the problem.

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