Similar to many other communities worldwide, D.C. has many people experiencing homelessness or at-risk, especially youth. D.C.’s January 2016 Annual Point-In-Time count identified approximately 8,000 people experiencing homelessness and their Youth Census late last year identified around 400 youth in the same avoidable dilemma. With the help of the HopeOneSource platform, the White House Summer Impact Hub, D.C. Government, local businesses and service providers are actively working to sustainably reduce these numbers – with very promising outcomes.
Supported by Cisco, IEEE, and Lockr, HopeOneSource is a web-based application that uses geolocated text messaging to increase awareness and access to career and social services such as education, employment, meals, and shelter. It launched in September 2015 with backbone support from the DC Interagency Council on Homelessness. The mission = support D.C.’s efforts to prevent and end homelessness.
More than 60 D.C. government and non-government service providers, to include churches, schools, libraries, police, business improvement districts, employment services and human services are now registering DC residents for HopeOneSource to receive geolocated text messages about nearby services they need using any web-enabled phone, tablet, or computer. These same organizations also use HopeOneSource to send targeted geolocated text messages that does not require the web with available career and social services – effortlessly connecting the right services to the appropriate people who need them, 24/7.
As of October 1, 2016, around 5% of DC’s population experiencing homelessness is registered for this free to use tool. Recently, D.C.’s Department of Employment Services (DOES) posted a notice about its upcoming job fair on HopeOneSource. The geolocated text message was then sent exclusively to youth who are in search of a job: "Are you 22, 23, or 24? If so, attend the #iWorkDC Job Fair on Thursday, 9/29 at the Verizon Center from 10am-3pm. Bring resume and dress to impress."
Derrick Woodfork, a young DC youth experiencing homelessness, signed up to receive nearby job placement opportunities on the HopeOneSource platform during D.C. Department of Human Services (DHS) Youth Census event called Youth Connect, which was put on by Friendship Place and Community Partnership in NW Washington DC . Soon after, he received a text message notifying him about the nearby DOES job fair.
Derrick attended the job fair and was able to speak with over 30 employers, with several promising job leads. He has also received many notifications that he has used or plans to that include resume writing assistance, food, showers, medical support, and more – helping him to end his homelessness .
Derrick's story is just one of many that show the life-changing (and sometimes lifesaving) ability of HopeOneSource. Additionally, as part of HopeOneSource’s shelter option notification, the Department of Human Services will be using HopeOneSource again this winter to send out lifesaving hypothermia alerts to access emergency shelters and transportation – with several lives reportedly saved from the 92 messages sent last winter.