Home For Now to help homeless young people

Anglicare WA launches new app Home For Now (H4N) to help young people experiencing homelessness more easily find crisis accommodation. Picture: Anglicare WA

A NEW app, Home For Now, has been designed to help young people experiencing homelessness, including in Yanchep and Butler, find it easier to search for crisis accommodation.

The Home For Now (H4N) app will allow young people to log-on from smartphones, public computers and other devices to find where crisis accommodation is available, then search for live options close to them.

The app then makes a connection so the person using it can begin to get the help they need.

Anglicare WA chief executive Ian Carter said the app and listings were a bit like ‘Airbnb for crisis accommodation’.

“Young people who are homeless report that the experience of trying to find a bed for the night, or a longer-term place to stay, is fraught with difficulty,’’ he said.

“There are no live lists with current vacancies, and accessing help is still through multiple phone calls on helplines.

“While these helplines do their best, it’s high time for a digital solution with faster access to information, and Home For Now is our innovative response to this need.

Mr Carter said the app was made possible by Coders for Causes – students from UWA, along with some design students, who collectively volunteered more than 1000 hours of their time and expertise.

UWA computer science student Ben Chidlow, who is vice president of Coders for Causes, said working on the project had been an incredible experience.

“It was a real eye opener to work with young people from less privileged backgrounds and see the impact being homeless had on their lives,” he said.

“Working on an app to help them get the support they need and turn their lives around was one of the most satisfying experiences I have had and it also gave UWA students the opportunity to work on a significant project to address a real-world challenge.”

The Home For Now team worked alongside WA’s youth homelessness service providers to see how it would operate in practice and to ensure the website is safe and accessible for providers and users.

Mr Carter said it was necessary for Anglicare WA to be really creative with the project and to mentor the coders and designers through the innovation processes.

“It was important for them to develop a clear understanding of the needs of young people in complex environments, and the capacity of the social service sector.’’

Home For Now will shortly be released for a two month testing phase within homelessness services to make sure that it is suitable and user-friendly before wider release.