San Francisco develops new app to help homeless

Thursday, October 8, 2015
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San Francisco has a new way for residents to help the city deal with the homeless crisis. It's a new addition to the city's 311 system, a phone app.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco has a new way for residents to help the city deal with the homeless crisis. It's a new addition to the city's 311 system, a phone app that will now include the homeless as a priority.

When many see homeless people on the streets of San Francisco, people tend to look the other way unsure of what to do.

"Do something. Help in some way and I don't mean giving money or buying them a cup of coffee. I mean real help," said Erica Sandberg, a San Francisco resident.

Sandberg says its uncaring to simply walk by. Her repeated calls to city hall caught the attention of the mayor who Thursday announced an update to the city's non-emergency 311 system, an app for smartphones that gives peopls ways to list your concern and routes it to the proper department.

Is it a mental health issue? The homeless outreach team should respond. Aggressive behavior? the police. Encampments? public works.

"It's recorded. We will follow up. The departments are held accountable to the data," said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.

The mayor says this will empower people who feel helpless about what they see on the street.

"Snitch app, you snitching on homeless people," said Darcel Jackson, who was formerly homeless. He is skeptical. "I can guarantee you they didn't call too many homeless people and say, 'How can we include you in the process to make it work for you.'"

He hopes to roll out his own app called See Me that would allow people to donate services the homeless themselves say they need.

Jackson says he'll support the city's app if it works. Erica Sandberg believes it will.

"We want change," she said.

SF311 is available for download.