Speaking with Laurie Philips, CEO at the St Patricks Center, we were inspired to build a platform that would drive the next generation of funding, dignify the homeless, and solve the referral problem.
What it does
-New clients can easily see what shelter bed availability exists in the region based on their specific criteria. Shelter providers can easily see what other shelters in the region have available space if they are full. -Once clients have been accepted into the shelter, clients can then easily re-book their bed each night and access service referrals easily. Shelter providers can easily see what service providers have availability in the region and follow up with care/instructions/check-ins if necessary -This system then allows greater visibility of financial resources from donors. Shelter providers can give donors personalized tracking of their money--what programs it went to, how it stacked up
How I built it
We started by drawing up some basic wireframes to express the features and overall user experience. After that, we designed a common data model that could be used for all aspects of the platform. From there, we split into groups and individually tacked the client web app, administrative console, and donor page. This approach allowed for maximum flexibility and concurrency of work.
Challenges I ran into
We spent quite a bit of time, effort, and frustration hashing out our idea. We wanted to come up with something that would be easily adoptable, would solve a problem, and would not be redundant to existing solutions. We spoke at length with several representatives of the St Patrick's Center, tried out their existing systems, and worked out a feature set that would accomplish our goals.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
The user experience of the app is particularly well thought out. We spent significant effort making sure that users from all walks of life could find a place to stay the night and manage their referrals without undo frustration. We produced several iterations of the donation page so that we could maximize the message of donation effectiveness to young donors.
What I learned
The homelessness problem is solvable. The efforts we are making now could end chronic homelessness with only marginal increases in funding and technology.
What's next for SleepSafe
We took a low key approach to referrals, simply moving the referral card system online. In the next iteration of the app, we would like to get external service providers on board to manage incoming referrals.