It has arrived! The Hack to End Homelessness weekend launched last night with the Artwalk installation at Impact Hub in Pioneer Square and it continues tonight with the Seattle premiere of @home, a documentary that moves the conversation forward on homelessness in America. Tomorrow, the two-day hackathon begins, bringing tech designers, developers, and innovators together with service providers, advocates and policy makers to build tools and create solutions to end homelessness.
Learn more about the people and vision behind the event below in this fabulous article by Geekwire reporter, Taylor Soper. And consider coming to the @home premiere tonight at Impact Hub in Pioneer Square at 7pm. Tickets are available here and at the door. Panel discussion with e-activist and founder of Invisible People, Mark Horvath, and reception to follow!
The Impact Hub co-working building sits in Seattle’s Pioneer Square, a neighborhood that’s seen a recent increase in crime and drug use.
Can technology end homelessness? These Seattle entrepreneurs are aiming to solve the problem
By Taylor Soper, for Geekwire, 4/30/14
At the heart of Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood exists a unique juxtaposition.
Inside a two-story brick building is the Impact Hub co-working space and business incubator, a place where entrepreneurs are busily working on ideas to improve the world we live in.
Homelessness. Drugs. Violence.
Now, those two contrasting scenes are coming together.
This weekend, more than 100 developers, designers, entrepreneurs and do-gooders will team up at the Impact Hub for the first-ever Hack to End Homelessness, a four-day event that encourages participants to envision and create ideas to alleviate the homelessness problem in Seattle.
The Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, Real Change and several other local homeless services and advocacy groups have already submitted project proposals, which range from an e-commerce site showcasing artwork of homeless youth to a social network focusing on low-end mobile phones for people who are homeless.
Seattle has certainly made an effort to fix its homelessness problem. Back in 2005, the Committee to End Homelessness established a 10-year plan to dramatically reduce the number of people without homes in the region. By the end of 2014, the goal was to “virtually end,” homelessness in King County.
But fast-forward to today and that hasn’t exactly come to fruition. There are more than 2,300 people in Seattle sleeping in the streets — up 16 percent from 2013 — and city data shows nearly 10,000 households checking into shelters or transitional housing last year. Thousands of others may not be on the streets or in shelters, yet still live without a permanent place to sleep at night.
While some efforts of the committee have helped curb homelessness, it’s clear that there is still a problem — one that has likely been affected by rising rent prices in the area.
Candace Faber, one of the event organizers, said that her team has been shocked by the growth of homelessness in the Seattle metropolitan area. They’re worried not only about how many people do not have a permanent home, but what kind of impact the problem is having on the city as a whole.
“With Seattle experiencing the highest rent hikes in the nation, we’re concerned that, without action, our city will not be able to remain the dynamic, affordable place it is now,” Faber said. “We don’t want to lose our entrepreneurial spirit or wind up with a situation like San Francisco, where you can’t afford to innovate without serious VC backing and there’s serious tension between the housing community and tech workers.”
That raises the question: How, exactly, can technology fix the homeless problem? The stories of these Seattle entrepreneurs helps to provide the answer.