- Marco Rubio: U.S. at social, moral crossroads
- ‘We’re coming for you, Barack Obama’: Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL
- White flags baffle NYPD: ‘We’re lucky it wasn’t a bomb’
- N.Y. Gov. Cuomo’s office interfered with, pressured corruption commission: report
- Brit lawmaker: I would fire on Israel if I lived in Gaza
- VA apologizes to forgotten Marine veteran locked in Fla. clinic, forced to call 911
- U.S. social and economic trends on worrisome track, survey finds
- McDonald nomination unanimously referred to full Senate
- Chuck Norris honorary chairman of NRA voter registration campaign
- GOP outraged Obamacare investigators able to get coverage with fake IDs
San Franciscans bring startup approach to homeless
Question of the Day
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - On the foggy streets of San Francisco, tech superstars and the homeless can be hard to tell apart in their identical hoodies. But there’s a key difference: smartphones and cash in some pockets, neither in others.
These two crowds will soon find themselves even closer together when Twitter moves its headquarters into one of the city’s poorest areas later this year, drawing attention to the divide between the tech haves and have-nots that crops up whenever wealthy companies rub shoulders with communities that haven’t seen the benefits of the latest boom.
Still, optimism reigns in San Francisco, especially when it comes to the promise of technology to improve people’s lives.
Recently, a crowd of such optimists came together for a “hackathon,” a weekend of intense work and little sleep, as part of a nonprofit project called Creative Currency. Engineers and entrepreneurs joined with designers and neighborhood advocates to figure out how technology could help people in the Tenderloin and Mid-Market areas of the city who don’t have roofs over their heads, much less web browsers.
“All people need dignity, right? And the base of dignity is being able to recognize and feel like you’re part of humanity,” said Aynne Valencia, a San Francisco designer who has worked for some of the biggest tech companies.
Over the weekend, Valencia and a team of 19 others designed a mobile wash station that people could use to take showers and launder their clothes. The project, RefreshSF, would be funded through small donations made via text message to pay not just for the wash stations themselves but to employ attendants who would ensure the stations didn’t suffer the same foul-smelling fate of so many San Francisco public restrooms.
Young urban professionals risk coming across as patronizing when they come into neighborhoods they might otherwise shun _and they also risk failure if they don’t understand how the neighborhood works.
To pre-empt that problem, Creative Currency organizers prior to the hackathon surveyed about 20 community organizations, 155 residents and 37 local businesses to gauge the neighborhood’s needs.
“It was actually really great to be reached out to,” said Kristen Growney Yamamoto, co-executive director of the Glide Foundation, one of the city’s largest providers of homeless services.
Another proposal, Bridge, intends to solve what Yamamoto and others described as one of the most maddening problems faced by San Francisco’s homeless. To get a bed for the night, shelter-seekers must line up early in the morning to get their names entered in the city’s reservation system. Standing in line can take hours. Even then, a spot isn’t guaranteed _ most don’t find out until early evening whether they have a place to sleep.
Barry Roeder, a San Francisco management consultant, wants to eliminate the lines by creating a neighborhood-wide network of touch-screen kiosks where people could make and check reservations themselves. The system could also notify people by text message if they received a bed _ the Creative Currency survey found that while few residents have smartphones, about 60 percent have access to some kind of cell phone.
If Bridge works as hoped, the idea is that by freeing up people’s time, they’d have more chance to do things to help themselves, such as look for work.
Before that can happen, Roeder acknowledges several challenges would have to be overcome.
“The nightmare that comes to mind is a busted ATM that’s been graffitied and peed on,” he said. Even tougher, said Yamamoto, would be the labor involved in grafting the system onto the city’s existing archaic reservation network or building a new one from scratch.
Jake Levitas, research director at the Gray Area Foundation For The Arts, the San Francisco digital arts nonprofit that conceived Creative Currency, believes that such obstacles are best surmounted by applying the hacker mindset to community issues.
TWT Video Picks
The subsidies are a hit with patients who don't exist
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- Hezbollah warring in Syria could join fight against Israel
- Hamas orders civilians to die in Israeli airstrikes
- Obama pressed on Sudanese mother's case, facing death sentence over Christian faith
- Netanyahu's Wikipedia page replaced with giant Palestinian flag
- House task force to recommend National Guard on border, faster deportations
- Democratic Sen. John Walsh plagiarized War College master's thesis: report
- EDITORIAL: Poor Hillary, rock-star wannabe
- Family removed from Southwest flight over tweet about rude agent, dad says
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq