By Brian Sullivan
They've become so ubiquitous in our daily lives that some might wonder, "how did we ever make dinner reservations or buy movie tickets BEFORE smart phones and tablets?" It's precisely because this technology is becoming ingrained in our daily lives that HUD, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and even rock star Jon Bon Jovi came together.
On Monday, April 15th, Secretary Donovan joined other federal partners and rocker Bon Jovi (taking time out of his "Because We Can" World Tour) to announce the winner of a mobile application competition designed to put our smart phones and tablets to work in meeting a national goal of ending homelessness. Project Reach sought creative and cost-efficient ways to use open data from HUD, other government agencies, and the private sector to locate resources for the homeless in any locality across the country. Imagine, outreach volunteers fanning out on the streets across this country hoping to shelter and serve the Unsheltered and UNserved armed with the technology they need (and already have!) to locate available housing and services in real time!
As Secretary Donovan put it, "We've come to rely on our phones and tablets to access information and now we can apply this same technology to help people find a place to sleep or direct them to medical and other vital services. This mobile app represents another high-impact collaboration between HUD, VA, and key partners in our shared effort to end Veteran homelessness by 2015."
Bon Jovi is the heart and soul behind JBJ Soul Kitchen, a community restaurant in Red Bank, New Jersey with no prices on the menu; customers donate to pay for their meal.
"The origins of Project REACH stemmed from the visible need for a simple, user-friendly, comprehensive application that would allow us to direct our Soul Kitchen diners to other resources in the community. Thanks to HUD, VA, HHS and the contest participants, we now have the application "Homeless REACH' which will aid resource providers and communities around the country in helping those in need," said Jon Bon Jovi, musician and Chairman of the JBJ Soul Foundation.
Last June, HUD Deputy Secretary Maurice Jones and Bon Jovi announced five finalists in this mobile app competition. And the winner is Qbase based in Reston, Virginia!
The Obama Administration has made ending Veteran homelessness by the end of 2015 a top priority, undertaking an unprecedented campaign in partnership with HUD and hundreds of community organizations to dramatically increase awareness of VA services available for homeless Veterans and Veterans at risk of becoming homeless. This cooperation has helped reduce the estimated number of homeless veterans living on our streets by nearly 17 percent, since 2009.