New US app helps people help the homeless

WeShelter is an app which allows people living in New York to help the homeless with just a few taps on their smartphones.

| 22nd Jun 15

WeShelter is an app, created by Ilya Lyashevsky, a graduate student at Columbia University and high-tech expert Ken Manning, which allows people living in New York to help the homeless with just a few taps on their phones.

If someone in New York walks past a homeless person they can tap the big green button on the WeShelter app and a donation will be made from corporate sponsors to a local organisation that helps the homeless.

Whilst the exact amount donated varies due to availability of funds and sponsor agreements, WeShelter says five cents will usually be donated per tap. It also says you can tap as many times as you want and not necessarily just when one sees a homeless person.

There is also the opportunity to increase the donation by as much as five times by sharing the news on social media.

The app also lets its users to makes homeless outreach requests,  a service provided by New York City’s Department of Homeless Services, through the app. When a request is made, an outreach team will try to locate the homeless person and provide them with assistance. If a user makes a request via the app, WeShelter will directly connect the user with an operator in order to speed up the process.

The app’s website said that the homeless population in New York City “has skyrocketed in recent years to levels not seen since the Great Depression, and the story is the same in other major cities. Many feel the urge to help but don’t know how best to do it. Giving someone spare change won’t help the person get off the street, and calling 311 (as NYC recommends) isn’t always practical.”