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New app maps NYC homeless like they’re potholes to be avoided

February 7, 2016
The app in the Google Play Store, the live map and recent photos.

The NYC Map the Homeless app in the Play Store, its live map of homeless sightings and recent photos.

Want to know where the homeless people are in New York City? There’s an app for that!

My friend Jezi alerted me to this. It’s called NYC Map The Homeless—an app for both Android, via the Google Play Store and iOS, through iTunes.

The app allows New Yorkers with GPS-enabled smartphones to take photos of homeless New Yorkers. These photos are automatically pinned to a Google Map of New York City so that other users of the app can click on and view them.

In addition to the name of the user who took the photo and date that the photo was taken, users can append descriptive hashtags, such as: #AggresiveBegging, #Threat, #Man, #Woman, #NeedsMedicalAid, #Sleeping, #Smoking, #Crack, #Encampment, and so on.

The app is quite sparse, with only five options: Users can take a photo, view the map, view the photos they have taken, or view the most recent photos taken by all app users. The fifth option, “Settings”, simply consists of the default user name the app will attach to a user’s photos, which the user can change.

The app is clearly in the same—but much meaner—spirit of one that might crowd-source reports of potholes or works crews or other such obstructions that can unexpectedly interfere with one’s plans in a big city.

Big city, big homeless problem — a little heartless though

OMG! a veritable hotspot of hobos in the Garment District!

OMG! a veritable hotspot of hobos in the Garment District!

NYC Map the Homeless was created last August by David Fox, a 25-year-old data engineer from Murray Hill, New York, according to the New York Post, because he grew fed up with “transients aggressively begging and urinating in the street — while his local politicians turn a blind eye”.

According to the Village Voice, the app grew out of a Facebook group called “Third and 33rd (and Beyond),” where Fox and the other 600 members have been actively posting photos of homelessness people from around their neighborhood.

The Voice cites figures from the Coalition for the Homeless, showing that New York City is currently home to more than 58,760 homeless people.

That’s about one homeless person for every 143.05 New Yorkers—more than one a block in dense Manhattan—and certainly the highest rate since the Great Depression!

Fox is described as hoping that as more people use the app it will reveal  “hot spots” and alert people to “high concentrations of hobos in particular neighborhoods or streets”.

The more I think about this Map the Homeless app, the more I think that Alice and her friends in Resident Evil could use one just like it, but for zombies.

Oh…snap! Click the images to enlarge them.

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7 Comments
  1. What on earth are these people thinking? Homeless people already have zero to none privacy and now there is an app that puts their information on the internet? Also, I don´t buy the app´s description that claims to want to help the homeless population. If a homeless person need medical attention, how about we act like decent human beings and notify the authorities instead of posting it online for everyone to see. Oh, I am mad. Thanks for posting this Stanley!

    • I can only guess that they’re thinking of their entitlement as homeowners to be free of riff-raff, undesirables and associated vermin.

      Unfortunately, gentrification of run-down urban areas continues to add serious insult to the injury of homelessness in North American cities. Increasingly, there’s simply nowhere for homeless to go.

      I kind of have to call B.S. on the claim that the app will help authorities identify and help homeless people. Did I mention the number 58,000? The “authorities” have no where to put these people. Hate to break it but there will not be 58,000 units of Housing First social housing in NYC for a long time to come — if ever.

      Apps don’t fix social problems!

  2. Reblogged this on Living the dream and commented:
    I can’t believe this is actually a thing.

  3. As a homeless person by choice, I find this app to be…oh hell, I can’t even find words for it!

    But to those who think that homeless people are disgusting and to be avoided, I say: there but for the grace of (whatever) go thou.

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