Homeless shelter
The resident of a homeless shelter. Courtesy San Diego Housing Commission

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to approve moving forward towards development of an app that would quickly locate available beds at county shelters for homeless people.

The proposed app, which is modeled after a similar program that locates shelter beds for victims of domestic violence, will provide real time data on shelter availability, according to the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office.

Service providers, emergency personnel, healthcare providers and others would also be able to tailor bed requests to the needs of the unsheltered. Bed requests will account for whether the individual has children or animals with them, is LGBTQ+, is elderly, or has disabilities, for instance.

“We believe this investment in technology to support communication and coordination of homeless services will be the first-of-its kind in the nation and will be grounded in transparency, equity and data,” said San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan. “Previously it could take up to 10 days to connect someone with a homeless shelter bed and by the time service providers reach back out to someone on the street, they’re often gone. With this app that connection can happen in minutes.”

The app is expected to undergo development for about six months.

According to the D.A.’s Office, the app’s creation stems from an effort to address “the needs of individuals experiencing homelessness who intersect with law enforcement and the criminal justice system.” The D.A.’s Office cited data indicating “that this vulnerable population is growing faster than the availability of housing and services.”

San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Nora Vargas said, “Our county has taken a bold approach to address the homelessness crisis currently impacting our communities by implementing innovative and creative ways of providing shelter and support. Today, with equity and confidentiality as our top priorities, we are adding one more means of ensuring we connect residents experiencing homelessness to shelter and a bed faster than ever before.”

San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the app would be “another tool in our arsenal, connecting people with the resources they need and providing informative data to help us assess the root cause of housing insecurity. The county must continue to search for and create long-term solutions to prevent, and ultimately, help San Diegans end their homelessness.”

City News Service contributed to this article.