A vibrantly colored bundle of houses cheerfully greets visitors signing onto the Spokane Homeless Coalition’s new Web site. Located at www.spokanecommunity.org/homeless, the site offers a comprehensive list of all places and resources available to the homeless.
The project was designed to do two things. First, it contains information homeless agencies need to better serve the homeless population. Second, the site supplies the public with facts about homelessness and tips on what the community can do to help.
The site offers external and internal links. The external link, accessible to the public, offers a listing 16 Spokane homeless programs and a short paragraph about each one. Additional information can be called up by clicking on the agency logo, which connects users with that agency’s home page.
Besides provider information, visitors will find the history of the site’s development and current statistics on homelessness. The external site also offers a public forum where guests may ask questions and get answers, and leave comments about their visit to the page. Public meetings and links to other homeless sites and related topics are also listed.
The internal link, accessible to the homeless agencies, allows agencies to share resources and view housing availability with a few clicks on the mouse. Each provider will update vacancies daily. The homeless can walk into agencies and quickly learn which programs have vacancies.
The Spokane Homeless Coalition, a group of about 80 people, is made up of homeless service providers, several community organizations, and members of the public.
An Innovative Homeless Project Grant for $594,000 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development was given to the City of Spokane’s Human Resources Department in May 1995. The Coalition decided to use some of it developing a computer networking system. About $14,000 went into Web site development and the purchase of necessary equipment; the majority of the funds went to shelter and support services. Brainstorming for the project began about one year ago, and was contracted out to InterLink Services, Inc., of Spokane.
The first order of business was to get computers, modems and Internet servers for all 16 of the groups serving the homeless. Through the grant money and donations from Foundation Northwest and U S West, computers were purchased for each homeless agency. Microsoft donated software.
“The most valuable thing about the project is the dedication and collaboration of the homeless agencies,” said Jane Shapiro of the City of Spokane’s Human Services Department.
For more information, call Shapiro at 625-6130.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo
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