Project summary:

We are working with several city of Austin offices to confront the problem of homelessness. People experience homelessness as a continuum, ranging from housing instability to incarceration, couch-surfing to street homelessness, and episodic to chronic. Our goal is to use AI to empower both people experiencing homelessness and the agencies who serve them. We will do this by learning about their specific information and service needs and developing AI-based interventions. Our innovative research will transform wrap-around services for individuals experiencing homelessness in Austin, using AI to ensure Austin is not only a smart city, but also a good city. We will also take into account the COVID-19 pandemic in our research. Public health messaging in this time emphasizes “shelter-in-place,” “stay-at-home,” and “safer at home.” This messaging assumes that everyone has a safe place to shelter, a home. During this crisis, we must consider our most vulnerable populations, including the homeless, not just due to the threat of infection, but also the resulting food insecurity and societal instability. The city’s Emergency Operations Center has created task forces to address various issues including homelessness, lack of income, and food insecurity. Our research can assist with identifying those experiencing homelessness, or at risk of homelessness, and providing services for them during this COVID-19 crisis.  

Project team:

Sherri R. Greenberg (LBJ School of Public Affairs), Min Kyung Lee (School of Information), Stephen C. Slota (School of Information), Kenneth R. Fleischmann (School of Information), James Snow (City of Austin, Department of Public Works), Khalil Bholat (City of Austin, Department of Public Works), Divya Rathanlal (City of Austin, Communications and Technology Management) and Jonathan Tomko (City of Austin, Neighborhood Housing and Community Development)