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Homelessness service providers will soon start gathering data about clients in hopes of continuing or expanding a program that gives the homeless in Pulaski County free bus passes.

When a person who is homeless and has a bus pass visits a participating shelter, caseworkers will enter information on how the client is doing based on 14 data points, such as mental health, transportation, housing and substance abuse.

The client's status will be ranked from zero, which means "in crisis," to five, which means "highly meets expectations," said Emiley Bee, a representative from The Good Grid.

"We want to just take that overall data and outcomes so we can expand the program and continue the program," she said Wednesday.

Advocates and service providers laid out the data-collection plan at Wednesday's meeting of the Arkansas Homeless Coalition. The group meets monthly and works to end homelessness in the state.

The data will allow caseworkers to review a client's progress over a few months, she said, adding that all the information is protected.

The Good Grid is a website that began in 2016 as a way to help people leaving prison re-enter society. Inmates in Arkansas Department of Community Correction facilities automatically get a Good Grid profile, and service providers can create pages for their organizations to connect with clients, Bee said.

The website is now offering the same services to providers who serve the homeless and will track outcomes for those using the bus pass program. The program gives 1,000 passes each month to people who work with the homeless to hand out to certain clients.

The homeless coalition and Rock Region Metro reached an agreement on the bus pass program at the end of November. The yearlong pilot program begins Feb. 1.

Little Rock Vice Mayor B.J. Wyrick said during Wednesday's meeting that she hopes the program succeeds and that charting its success could be an avenue toward getting more federal money, which would open the possibility of buying more buses.

"They see this as a national program to present and get more dollars," Wyrick said of Rock Region Metro. Wyrick is the city board liaison with Rock Region Metro and the head of the coalition's transportation committee.

She added that buying more buses would benefit the city overall as well as the homeless population. In a survey administered last year, homeless respondents said access to transportation was the biggest hurdle to getting a job.

Sandra Wilson, coalition president, said 15 providers have already signed up for training on how to use the Good Grid website. The training is scheduled for Jan. 17.

Accounts on The Good Grid are similar to Facebook pages, Bee said. Users can connect with providers. Creating an account isn't necessary if people just want to browse the directory of services, she said.

The Good Grid is also preparing to launch iPhone and android apps for mobile users, Bee said.

"That's going to be very key for me," said Bernadette Reynolds, a coalition board member who works at River City Ministries, a Little Rock homeless shelter.

NW News on 01/11/2019

Print Headline: Homeless data to be used to aid bus pass program

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