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Seniors Work to Help Homeless Find Shelters, Create Awareness

 

December 21, 2016 – Two Georgetown seniors have created an infographic and an interactive map to help the homeless and others locate the city’s shelters.

Carlo Izzo (C’17) and Eliza McCurdy (C’17) are volunteers with the university’s Hypothermia Outreach Team (HOT).

The students used an assignment in their Research Methods in Justice and Peace course to develop the infographic and map, which feature the city’s year-round, seasonal and hypothermia alert-night shelters while also drawing awareness and attention to the challenges faced by the homeless population.

Carlo Izzo“It just kind of all connected for me – where I was volunteering, what my class was doing and learning what people were experiencing in the homeless community,” says Izzo, who with McCurdy took the justice and peace course taught by Andria Wisler this past fall.

2016: More Homeless

This year D.C.’s homeless population increased by 14 percent, an additional 1,052 individuals with no fixed addresses, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress.

The number of homeless families in the District also increased by more than 30 percent compared with a year ago, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

Eliza McCurdy As Izzo and McCurdy examined such data, they realized D.C.’s 37-page winter plan included addresses but no map highlighting places for homeless people to take shelter.

“Although the homeless population includes some of the most adept navigators of this city, it still doesn’t mean that if you give them some random address in the suburbs that they’ll be able to find their way there,” McCurdy says. “We wanted to make the locations more accessible.”

Educational Infographic

The two justice and peace studies majors also hope the infographic will serve as an educational and recruitment tool for HOT, run by Georgetown’s Center for Social Justice, Research, Teaching and Service (CSJ) in partnership with the Georgetown Ministry Center.

The infographic includes a scannable QR code that takes smartphone users to the interactive map of city shelters, information on helping the homeless in D.C., and a story about a homeless man who died one frigid night seeking shelter in a phone booth.

Real-World Application

The students already have shared the link with shelters across the city.

They hope their materials can benefit the homeless as well as the volunteers and service providers in the area who are working to help them.

“The justice and peace studies program strives to make a lot of our projects applicable to the real world and actually helpful,” McCurdy says. “So I think this map and infographic are our efforts to utilize our skills and to make an academic tool more accessible.”