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RSS FeedsNon-profit tech company designs app to help Toronto´s homeless
(The Star Business)

 
 

22 july 2019 01:30:09

 
Non-profit tech company designs app to help Toronto´s homeless
(The Star Business)
 


For some 8,000 Toronto homeless people and as many as 160,000 at risk of losing their housing, finding the closest free meal service, clothing bank or drop-in program is now as easy as tapping a smart phone or clicking on a desktop computer.“Chalmers,” a web-based app designed by tech non-profit Ample Labs with the help of people experiencing homelessness, uses artificial intelligence to instantly connect people to the social services they need 24/7. “When I heard about it, I knew I wanted to be part of this,” said Alex Meli, 24, a homeless York University computer science student. “It was an opportunity to help those who are experiencing the same thing as me,” said the refugee from Cameroon who has been sleeping at Covenant House youth shelter since last fall when he could no longer stretch his OSAP loan to pay for housing.“A couple of guys at the shelter are using it and they told me it is very useful, especially the free meals feature,” Meli said Sunday as he visited downtown shelters and drop-in centres with fellow Ample Lab volunteers to spread the word.Launching Monday in Toronto, Chalmers is believed to be the first so-called “chatbot,” or interactive technology, specifically designed for the homeless and those at risk of losing their homes, said Elisa Traficante of Raising the Roof, a national advocacy organization dedicated to preventing homelessness.Most people under age 35 experiencing homelessness own smart phones to help them connect with social services, jobs, friends and life beyond the streets, Traficante said. And while they may not be able to afford service contracts, they are still able to access the internet via Wi-Fi in coffee shops and other public spaces. Even older, chronically homeless people use the internet regularly on computers in public libraries and drop-in centres, she added.Numerous services and supports are available to people in precarious housing situations, said Ampl ...


 
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