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Boston seeks computer system to match homeless people with services

The City of Boston is looking to use technology to more efficiently assist homeless people with housing and supportive services, Mayor Martin J. Walsh said Wednesday.

Boston is seeking a vendor to develop a single digital platform that can track housing vacancies and availability and pair them with individuals in the city’s homeless population database, Walsh said in a statement.

“We must do more as a community to better connect Boston’s homeless individuals with the resources available throughout the city,” Walsh said. “By using technology to create a more efficient and streamlined process, we are continuing to use innovation to tackle some of our city’s most complicated challenges.”


The new system is expected to be launched in spring 2016, according to the mayor’s office. The hope is to create an automated “matching engine” that gives the most vulnerable populations a priority.

Walsh’s office said in the statement that the system will include eligibility requirements and accompanying services for each housing unit. An interface will allow service providers to enter availabilities into the system.

After the system makes a match, the homeless individual and housing provider will need to accept or reject the offer and give the reasons for their decision. The process will be repeated until a match can be found.

The city will first need to find a vendor to create a system than can track housing placements and then match available spots to people listed in the existing Homeless Management Information System.

According to the statement from the mayor’s office, the system stores information about persons who use homeless assistance programs in the city. Those programs are required to report data about who uses their resources so the information can feed into the database, the office said.

The new system would be Boston’s first “coordinated access system,” matching those in need “with available housing paired with supportive services,” Walsh said.


Sarah Roberts can be reached at sarah.roberts@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @heysarahroberts.