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Seattle tech communitiy ‘hacks’ to end homelessness

"In our building there's glass walls, it's a very beautiful modern space and right on the other side of that glass wall is Union Gospel Mission. There's a bus stop, there are always people hanging out there, always fighting, sometimes sleeping, sometimes dealing drugs. So we kind of get accustomed to looking at people with this distance or this glass between us," said Candace Faber.(MyNorthwest.com Photo/File)

Pioneer Square has become synonymous with drugs, violence and chronic homelessness. It’s a problem so big that it’s tough to nail down even a small way to help.

Also in Pioneer Square is a co-working space called Imapct Hub, comprised of social entrepreneurs who want you to pick up your smartphone and do more than just crush candy.

Candace Faber and her fellow social entrepreneurs are hosting a four-day event called “Hack to end Homelessness” starting Thursday.

“I think in general, there’s a kind of compassion fatigue. People see people on the street or they’re being harassed or asked for money on a regular basis and you sort of learn to stop seeing homeless people, they become invisible in a sense,” said Faber. “They want to make the problem visible, we want to make it legible, we want to make it understandable and we want to provide a number of different ways for people to get involved in whatever way suits them best.”

Faber works inside Impact Hub. She knows exactly what it’s like to encounter aggressive homeless people every day. She said it’s an experience that makes it easy to dehumanize that population.

“In our building there’s glass walls, it’s a very beautiful modern space and right on the other side of that glass wall is Union Gospel Mission, there’s a bus stop, there are always people hanging out there, always fighting, sometimes sleeping, sometimes dealing drugs. So we kind of get accustomed to looking at people with this distance or this glass between us,” said Faber.

She said the Hack to end Homelessness event was born out of a San Francisco tech founder who wrote an article last December about homelessness.

“Basically, comparing them to human trash and saying that they should be quarantined in a part of the city where he didn’t need to deal with them,” she said.

Faber didn’t want the tech world to get a bad name from one person’s diatribe. So, Hack to end Homelessness is seeking to bring together software developers, graphic designers, storytellers, social media marketers – the list goes on – to develop technology-based solutions to homelessness.

“One of our partners that’s actually coming up from Los Angeles is the founder of Invisible People which is kind of a defacto network of stories (about) people who are experiencing homelessness. He wants to create a social network for low and mobile phones that’s exclusively for the homeless community,” she said.

The possibilities are endless and really all you need to do this weekend is show up to the event and brainstorm. Faber hopes that by Sunday they’ll be able to launch those ideas so that you can download them on your smartphone come Monday.

The Hack to end Homelessness website has all of the information you need. It runs Thursday through Sunday and you can show up for all or any of those days.

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