Posted by: realtormarkpalace | March 23, 2012

VA contest to help homeless find homes

WASHINGTON – March 22, 2012 – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) launched a contest to help the homeless. It challenges the developer community to create easy, mobile access to resources that the homeless need.

“This contest taps the talent and compassion of the nation’s developer community,” says VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki. “We are asking them to make a free, easy-to-use web and smartphone app that provides current information about housing, health clinics and food banks.”

Project REACH (Real-time Electronic Access for Caregivers and the Homeless) was announced in collaboration with the Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping the lives of people facing economic challenges.

One out of every six men and women in homeless shelters are veterans, and veterans are 50 percent more likely to fall into homelessness compared to other Americans. The administration has adopted a formal “no wrong door” philosophy that means all veterans seeking to prevent or escape homelessness must have easy access to help.

“Last year’s 12 percent drop in veterans homelessness shows the results of President Obama’s and the whole administration’s commitment to ending veterans homelessness,” says Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan.

“At the Soul Kitchen we’ve seen the need for a simple, user-friendly, comprehensive application that connects those in need to resources in their community,” says Jon Bon Jovi, chairman of the JBJ Soul Foundation and White House Council for Community Solutions Member. “As we sought out a solution to resolve the disconnect, we found the VA, HUD and HHS to be of like mind. Together, we can provide the information about existing services – now we need the bright minds in the developer community to create a platform to tie it all together.”

The ultimate contest goal is to create a national platform that allows health clinics, food kitchens, housing services and shelters to automatically update information on key services in real time. The winning app will collect homeless services information, map it online and electronically distribute it to communities nationwide.

The contest will be conducted in two phases. Finalists will be judged primarily on their ability to dynamically update information about housing and shelter near JBJ Soul Kitchen. Basic performance criteria are described in http://www.challenge.gov. Secondly, competitors must display information about local VA services, employment support, crisis hotlines and local legal assistance resources.

The first five entries to meet those requirements will receive a $10,000 cash prize and the opportunity to test their app at the JBJ Soul Kitchen. The winner will receive $25,000.

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

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