A Calgary-based social technology company that brings together social services and community support receives federal funding of $ 2.5 million for an app.
HelpSeeker currently serves more than 200 communities in western Canada and the greater Toronto area, connecting homeless Canadians with local social agencies.
Ahmed Hussen, Minister for Families, Children and Social Development, announced on Friday that the program is now being expanded nationwide.
“With this funding, which we announce today, HelpSeeker can expand its operations to serve more than 5,000 coast-to-coast communities,” he said at a news conference.
“Innovative housing solutions like HelpSeeker are critical to ensuring that more Canadians have access to affordable housing that meets their needs.”
Alina Turner and her husband Travis launched HelpSeeker in 2018 with the goal of empowering people to find help.
“They should help people to choose the most relevant, closest help and the most diverse languages,” she said on Friday at a press conference.
“Through this process we will involve communities from the bottom up to participate in national efforts to digitize our social safety net.”
Turner said solving Canada’s complex social problems requires new thinking and new technology.
“Having a robust network with over 250,000 services is an amazing asset. However, Canadians don’t always know what’s out there and how to access it,” she said.
She said the impact of COVID-19 on racial communities illustrates the need to approach social issues differently.
“We could use digital tools to create a better experience finding help that makes information painlessly accessible, transparent and ridiculously organized for those in need,” she said.
Turner added that HelpSeeker will also involve domestic violence, poverty, mental health and addiction and early childhood development service providers.
“We will be successful when everyone living in Canada has easy access to information about the full inventory of benefits and supports programs and services that can help them meet their immediate and future needs,” she said.