Wired: “New York is facing a crisis. The city that never sleeps has become the city with the most people who have no home to sleep in. As rising rents outpace income growth across the five boroughs, some 62,000 people, nearly 40 percent of them children, live in homeless shelters—rates the city hasn’t seen since the Great Depression.
As New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio faces reelection in November, his reputation and electoral prospects depend in part on his ability to reverse this troubling trend. In the mayor’s estimation, combatting homelessness effectively will require opening 90 new shelters across the city and expanding the number of outreach workers who canvass the streets every day offering aid and housing. The effort will also require having the technology in place to ensure that work happens as efficiently as possible. To that end, the city is rolling out a new tool, StreetSmart, aims to give city agencies and non-profit groups a comprehensive view of all of the data being collected on New York’s homeless on a daily basis.
Think of StreetSmart as a customer relationship management system for the homeless. Every day in New York, some 400 outreach workers walk the streets checking in on homeless people and collecting information about their health, income, demographics, and history in the shelter system, among other data points. The workers get to know this vulnerable population and build trust in the hope of one day placing them in some type of housing.
Traditionally, outreach workers have entered information about every encounter into a database, keeping running case files. But those databases never talked to each other. One outreach worker in the Bronx might never know she was talking to the same person who’d checked into a Brooklyn shelter a week prior. More importantly, the worker might never know why that person left. What’s more, systems used by city agencies and non-profits seldom overlapped, complicating efforts to keep track of individuals….
The big promise of StreetSmart extends beyond its ability to help outreach workers in the moment. The aggregation of all this information could also help the city proactively design fixes to problems it wouldn’t have otherwise seen. The tool has a map feature that shows where encampments are popping up and where outreach workers are having the most interactions. It can also be used to assess how effective different housing facilities are at keeping people off the streets….(More)”.