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The Mass Media

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The Number 1,543

Homelessness is an issue we have all come across at some point in our lives. To many, homelessness is a distant issue, one that happens to “them” but not “us.” In Boston, however, it is a much greater problem than we might expect. Let’s take a look at some numbers, because who doesn’t like numbers? Don’t answer that.

As of the 2015 Census, 1,543 families in Boston reported being homeless. This is not individual people, but entire families. In the population of Boston, one could argue that 1,543 is a negligible amount, but think of all of the people you see on campus each day. Most likely, you walk by over a thousand people over the course of your day, depending on how many people decided to become professional hooky players. Imagine each and every one of those people being homeless, and you have roughly 1,543.

To makes matters worse, numbers have been increasing year after year, including the number of children homeless, jumping from 2,056 to 2,440.

You may be wondering why this article has been so depressing, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

While Boston may have a higher percentage of homeless people than many of its peer cities, it also has one of the lowest numbers of unsheltered people with a low of 1.7 percent of the homeless population.

Even better news? Mayor Marty Walsh has partnered with Green River, a software company based in Cambridge in order to make these numbers even lower.

Why a software company, you ask? It doesn’t seem like there is a strong connection between software and homelessness, but quite the opposite is true.

Software is an integral part of helping housing advocates find a more permanent home from shelters. For the most part, each shelter will have its own way of finding housing, some even with their own apps. With so many different iterations, the pool of houses becomes narrower and narrower, with many shelters only having access to a fraction of the actual pool for available housing.

What Green River and Marty Walsh plan to do is to streamline this service by creating a universal app for all shelters in Boston to share. This software will be called the Coordinated Access System (CAS). It will grant shelters, housing companies, and emergency facilities the ability to engage on a single platform, thus making communication quick, cost effective, and efficient.

According to Green River CEO Michael Knapp, CAS will work with in conjunction with current systems to allow for an easy transition for each organization involved, without having to overhaul infrastructure. Changes will be quick and seamless without disrupting previous progress for the organizations.
There is still a lot more to be done in the fight against homelessness. The City of Boston is working hard at creating an easy-to-use system to get families off the streets, but with the efforts of Green River and the integration of CAS, the number 1,543 will become much, much smaller.