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Today in Everett WA: "one in ten residents, and 14% of all children, live in poverty. Additionally, there are almost 60,000 households in Everett that fall into the Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE), which includes households earning slightly more than the federal poverty level cannot afford basic living costs" (United Way, 2016). "This region’s high cost of living makes it extremely hard for a family to climb out of poverty, and keeps many families perpetually on the cusp of poverty Everett’s unemployment rate is 10.9% and close to 18,000 of its residents lack health insurance" (United Way, 2013).
When we started the early research for our capstone project, we were surprised to find that there was not a single online resource for the city of Everett (or the greater North Sound area) that accurately complied an online index of local social service resources. Furthermore, there was no directory of links to direct potential users to services for Everett. This critical information void creates a major barrier for the at-risk populations that need to know not only of relevant services, but how to access these resources. Key areas of need particular to Everett are: access to nutrition, homeless prevention services, work opportunities, recovery and mental health services, and legal aid. Most of these services are needed by vulnerable populations, including those that fall within the median cost of living.
Though a member of an at-risk population may compile a list of Everett-based social services, the endeavor would require time, a sustained internet connection, a working cell phone, and an understanding of how and where to search. Further research would be needed to plan for transportation, fares, office hours, etc. This may prove difficult to impossible for our target users. Because there is a deficit of informational guidance, we seek to design a template amenable to both service providers and those in need of social services.
As in most places, the services needed by low-income and at-risk populations are few, and accessing what is available is complicated and resource sapping. There are an estimated 58 programs that currently serve the low-income and at risk population in Everett. Most of the programs available do not have up-to-date websites that provide in depth operations information, if they have them at all. Often health organizations walk-in clinic hours are not available online or posted in any physical location, and the only way to learn about that resource’s availability is by second-hand knowledge or pure luck.
Everett Helplink.org is an attempt to try and bridge this critical information gap for at-risk populations in and around the city of Everett, WA. We are endeavoring to create an online resource that connects potential clients to local social services in the Everett area. This resource aims to provide an exhaustive list of local services, an accurate description of available resources, and the current operating information by location and type of resources. Furthermore, it will provide background information on processes for accessing services (such as relevant transit information). Where possible we have consulted directly with service providers that we list as part of our index. We have done this to ensure that we have accurate information, that the information meets the specifications of each organization, and that the organizations are aware of this resource.
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We just completed our 2017 ISchool Capstone Presentation on the Everett HelpLink website!
Our poster image below provides a highly simplified visual guide though our projects goal setting, planning and implementation process.