NKU, Strategies to End Homelessness launch 'Street Reach' app to connect the homeless with street outreach workers


Developed by NKU students, app is the first of its kind in the nation

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – As the weather turns cold in Greater Cincinnati, making sure that homeless people are connected with street outreach and emergency shelter services becomes increasingly important. 

A new app developed at Northern Kentucky University puts the technology to make these connections right in the palm of your hand for the first time.

Street Reach” aims to break down barriers between the homeless and street outreach services by allowing the public to make electronic reports of individuals in need.

“As winter arrives, we need to help homeless people come in out of the cold. By using the Street Reach app, anyone who sees a person sleeping outside can make sure that person is offered assistance,” said Kevin Finn, president and CEO of Strategies to End Homelessness.

Street Reach allows members of the public to make electronic reports to street outreach workers when they encounter someone in need of help. It also allows the homeless to reach out for help.

“Street Reach makes it possible for community members to provide help to the homeless, and also educates the public about what resources are available in our community,” said Rachael Winters, NKU professor of social work and former director of the Emergency Shelter of NKY. “We believe that it could become a national model.”

Street Reach is a partnership between NKU’s Center for Applied Informatics, College of Education and Human Services, Strategies to End Homelessness, and other outreach and service agencies.

Students Justin Hill, a developer in the Center for Applied Informatics, and Brittney Kane, who is pursuing a master’s of social work, led the project.

The app has been in development since February and was beta-tested in October.

And it’s easy to use: when a community member notices someone living outside, he or she can simply open the app, which uses location-based technology to automatically identify where the report is submitted.

The user can enter a few quick details, such as the individual’s approximate age, race and gender, and then click send. The report is emailed to Strategies to End Homelessness, which sends a street outreach worker to make contact with the homeless person.

The free app is available in the Android store. A web-based version is also available online at www.streetreachcincy.com.