Archive for November, 2011

November 30, 2011

The Nice, the Naughty, and the Needy

Xbox, check. iPad 2, check. Hundreds of rom-coms on Blu-Ray, check. Sound familiar?

While many Chicagoans are camping out at their local Target, Walmart or Best Buy stores this December to buy loved ones everything on their holiday wish lists and stringing garland, mistletoe and fake wreaths around their homes while drinking eggnog and watching A Christmas Story and Home Alone over and over until they know all the lines, thousands others are in desperate need of shelter, clothing, and even their next meal.

What? People are standing outside hungry and freezing while I just purchased the “Chocolate Tasting for Two” Groupon and am in the process of putting a Michael Kors Christmas sweater on my pug?

Yes.

Oh no! How can I help?

You can start by voting for iFinditChicago in the Grand Challenge of MCIC’s Apps for Metro Chicago Competition!

Just Visit www.appsformetrochicago.com December 6 – 12, 2011 and vote for iFinditChicago as your favorite app!

What is iFinditChicago?

OK, we know you were last to read the Twilight series, you still don’t know who Harry Potter is, and it wasn’t until last month that you decided to figure out what all this Facebook stuff was about, but get with it! iFinditChicago is an Android app designed to help low income and homeless residents connect with critical resources such as medical clinics, food pantries, and shelters. And it’s changing lives!

The iFinditChicago app sounds awesome, but how do I know homelessness and hunger in Chicago is really a problem?

Chew on this: Last year, the Emergency and Transitional Housing (E&TH) program—a program that gives immediate and comprehensive shelter services to the homeless and provides funding for meals, shelter and support services to not-for-profit organizations and local governments—provided overnight shelter and transitional housing to 40,542 people, one-third of who were under 18. Still, people in need were turned away 45,673 times!

This year, the Illinois state budget for the E&TH program was cut by 52%, from $9.1 million to $4.4 million! The new budget cuts could force an additional 6,746 people onto Chicago’s streets in 2012!

Shelters and soup kitchens are responding to these cuts by:

  • Reducing number of beds available
  • Reducing number of people served
  • Laying off staff who provide case management and other services

Some agencies are even at risk of closing unless cuts are restored.

So how does iFinditChicago help?

Research has shown that people in low-income communities and on the streets have increasing access to smartphones. iFinditChicago can help these people in need find places to eat, sleep and receive medical care, quickly and discreetly with the press of a button! And we’re not the only ones who think our app is genius! iFinditChicago recently won the Community round of The Apps for Metro Chicago competition!

So what is this competition?

The Apps for Metro Chicago Competition is an unprecedented #opengov software challenge facilitated by Metro Chicago Information Center (MCIC) that invites software developers, community groups, businesses and individuals to build innovative apps that solve longstanding social problems and improve services in Metro Chicago. The goal of the competition is to increase government transparency by facilitating the building of software applications that are creative, useful, and designed for long-term impact. The competition is hosted by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition, the Motorola Mobility Foundation and The Chicago Community Trust, with $50,000 in awards up for grabs.

When are the winners announced?

iFinditChicago already won 1st place in the Community round of the Apps for Metro Chicago competition, so our app will automatically be one of the 20 finalists in the Grand Challenge Round of the competition. The winners will be selected by a panel of Grand Challenge judges and announced on December 16, 2011!

What else can I do to help those in need?

Go to www.HousingMatters.net and log in to contact your state legislators and ask them to restore funding cuts to the Emergency and Transitional Housing Program!

Together, we can fight homelessness and help low-income Chicagoans enjoy the season too!

Happy Holidays!