Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Looking to help homeless vets?

From the Asbury Park Press:

Looking to help homeless vets? Jon Bon Jovi and the White House are working on an app for that.
Bon Jovi, along with Shaun Donovan, secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and W. Scott Gould, deputy secretary of Veterans Affairs, unveiled a contest Monday called Project Reach, which calls for the development of a user-friendly application that provides real-time information about the availability of shelters, meals and care for homeless vets.

“We'll access veterans to — in instant and real time — medical, food, shelter and social services via the Internet and what a better way to do that than through the innovative minds of the technology community,” said Bon Jovi, speaking on the conference call from his Soul Kitchen restaurant on Monmouth Street in Red Bank.

The contest calls for techies to find an easy-to-use, mobile and Web app to connect users to service providers and real-time information about resources for the homeless and others in need.

The contest is using Monmouth County as its proving ground, and the first five entries that meet requirements will receive a $10,000 cash prize and the opportunity to test their app at Soul Kitchen.

The winning entry receives a $25,000.

Soul Kitchen

The inspiration for the app contest came, in part, from an experience Bon Jovi had at his pay-what-you-can Soul Kitchen.

“There was a man here at the Soul Kitchen. He wasn’t a veteran, but unbeknownst to us he was actually homeless,” Bon Jovi said. “He volunteered to earn his meal that night, and he stayed late into the evening. When we realized he ultimately had nowhere to go, it led us to the Internet.”

Once there, Bon Jovi found real-time information lacking.

“We wanted to help, but we didn't have real-time information,” Bon Jovi said. “We didn't know how many beds were available, or at the Parker (Family Health Center in Red Bank), was there a doctor or a dentist?”

The assumption is that if not all homeless vets have cellphones, intermediaries would.

“They’re coming to soup kitchens, they're coming to places like the Soul Kitchen, they’re coming to medical centers here in Monmouth County,” said Bon Jovi, a native of Sayreville.
There are 67,495 homeless veterans in the country, according to the departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development.

Visit www.challenge.gov for more information.

Bon Jovi is a member of the White House Council for Community Solutions.

~ Hath


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