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Exploring emergency sheltering services for people experiencing homelessness in San Diego County

We gathered people from across San Diego County

Participants who work in outreach, case management, and policy designed tools that described an interconnected system for care staff and people who are unhoused to access sheltering services. Of note, this system  benefits from a structured data repository that connects to existing services in use now.


Low-fidelity Prototypes
Find out what experts in the field designed to solve problems associated with finding shelter for people who are unhoused.

Tech for outreach workers

The following mobile app ideas help outreach workers and case managers match the most vulnerable to shelter and help connect outreach staff to each other. Transparency, equity, and efficiency were core criteria for these teams. For more details about each idea, click Read More.


Shelter Connect app

How might we make the availability of emergency shelters more visible and accessible to all programs across San Diego County?

  • Captures valuable data to understand who is receiving emergency shelter; and informs program improvements and equitable practices

  • Connected to Clarity

  • Reports on all of the client demographics, number of beds, and number of participants served

One Stop Shop app

How might we allow outreach staff to receive faster responses to shelter requests when a person who is unhoused has expressed interest in emergency shelter during street outreach?  

  • Browse providers, their resources and shelter availability in the region

  • Reserve a bed for two hours; after that time period it is released back into shelter inventory

  • Enter client information and special accommodations

  • If no beds, place a client on a shelter waiting list

  • A seamless chat function that connects outreach staff, regardless of program, to each other

  • Search function to find the answer to repeated questions

  • Expert Is In feature where an outreach staff is available in real time to answer questions.

How might we allow outreach staff to identify relevant and available resources and services for people who are unhoused more efficiently while doing street outreach? 

Real Time Resources app

Tech for people who are unhoused

These teams considered how technology might make the acquisition of shelter more swift and more equitable for people seeking services on their own. The following kiosk and web site ideas provide the general public with key resources like shelter, where the nearest showers are located, and innovative needs like secure charging stations.

  • Solar-powered kiosk located inside or near community resource buildings.

  • Charging stations with small individual lockers for phone charging and security


  • A private and secure way to access messages from resource providers


  • Find relevant resources (shelter, healthcare, and transportation) and broadcasts of timely emergency alerts.

Resource Now kiosk

How might we make it easier for people who are unhoused to access resources and services on their own?

  • The general public can access a shelter matching feature

  • Secure login for shelter and case management staff

  • Staff can view and manage bed inventory and current requests for shelter

  • Future upgrades: services like food banks and other relevant resources; an accountability program to encourage programs to keep information up to date. 

Shelter Connect website

How might we make the availability in emergency shelters more visible and accessible to all programs across San Diego County?

Tech that connects to existing services

This team considered how technology might make the acquisition of shelter more transparent while using existing systems in the County to benefit from the data, structures, and resources they provide.


Shelter Connect website

  • Connects to Community Information Exchange (CIE)

  • Registered users can view and interact with information depending on level of access

  • Connects the case manager directly to the shelter once a match is made

  • An accountability program that ensures participating programs keep their shelter and resource information updated.

Sheer Shelter website

How might we increase collaborations between agencies and programs that serve people who are unhoused to encourage more referrals?

Next step: your ideas.

The strength of these ideas rely on your feedback. Please take a moment to offer your experiences and expertise to improve their initial ideas.

Which ideas resonate with you? Why?

What features would you like to see added?

When finding shelter for clients, what is the most important information a shelter or an outreach worker needs?

Is anything missing from these ideas?

If you're interested in contributing to this project or receiving updates, please share your contact information (first, last name; organization; title; email address)




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