Over half a million American citizens are homeless with no opportunities to bounce back. Some ask for spare change at the busy intersection but are often ignored. After all, what good would a dollar do? Others may seek out work but become discouraged when they are not even allowed into the establishment. An unfortunate circumstance should not overrule the skills and past work experience of homeless people. A 2017 USC study found that 94% of homeless people own cell phones (https://socialinnovation.usc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Rhoades-et-al-2017-final.pdf). Despite their prevalence in our society, they remain disconnected.
Many homeowners pass by people living on the streets, silently hoping there is a way to help. Many homeowners also need small maintenance tasks done, such as mowing the lawn, painting their house, or helping load a truck. Here's where First Step comes in.
What it does
First Step is a mobile service that connects homeless people to nearby jobs. Homeowners can post jobs they need accomplished and homeless people can apply for those jobs. To verify trustworthiness, the job posters can chat with the applicants before accepting the person. Once a person is accepted for a job, a map and route is downloaded so that offline navigation is possible.
After completing a successful job, the homeless person will have increased self-confidence. They will be more likely to seek out more work and eventually a stable job to re-enter society with.
How we built it
We began with wire-framing the application in Adobe XD then rendering and prototyping in InVision. Finally, we used Android Studio to build the app.
Challenges we ran into
Only one of our five members had previous experience developing an Android application, so there was a steep learning curve to overcome. Our decision to explore the Android environment challenged our ability to implement all of the technical features that we initially planned for.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We believe our design is comprehensive and simple. Users who are less familiar with mobile applications are able to utilize First Step to its fullest. Offline navigation is an important feature that we implemented so that a phone plan or cellular data usage is not necessary.
What we learned
Many of us wrote our first lines of an Android application today. While we were not able to completely idealize our initial vision, we taught and learned from each other.
What's next for First Step
We hope to implement a rating and review system so that job-seekers are more readily trusted. Job posters could then hear first-hand reviews from their neighbors, thus being more likely to hire certain homeless people.