The Seeking Shelter app has become a valuable tool, helping individuals navigate the often challenging landscape of homelessness and connecting them with the support they deserve. Our commitment to providing this essential service remains strong, as we strive to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those seeking shelter.
One night while out grocery shopping in St Louis, a young woman with an infant approached me. She wanted money. Instead, I gave her my time and attention. She told me that she had nowhere to go and that she didn’t want to sleep on the streets. Not with her daughter. At the time, I was a graduate student in the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. I was also an intern at the Covenant House Missouri, a chapter of the famous Covenant House which focuses on offering long-term residential programs for “youth who are runaway, trafficked, at-risk, or experiencing homelessness with unconditional love, absolute respect and a place to call home.”
For the next couple of hours, I called shelters across St Louis to see if I could find somewhere that could accommodate a parent with a young child. It took four hours, a web browser, and eight phone calls to learn that no shelter in the city had space for the both of them. All organizations have their own mysterious beginnings; the initial vision for Seeking Shelter emerged from the obstacles we faced that night. Why is it so hard for people experiencing homelessness to get help? What does it mean to be seeking shelter? Had there been an easier method for this woman to find out what shelters were nearby, and which were available, she could have found one on her own.
Two years later, in 2017, Seeking Shelter launched its first major program: an open access, city-based directory of available resources for people experiencing homelessness and a streamlined mobile-app to help them navigate and access this often difficult-to-locate assistance. Our free mobile app works on both Androids and iPhones; you do not have to be in crisis to use it; you can provide guidance to resources for others too.