The VA has joined this developer challenge as part of VA’s mission to end homelessness among our nation’s Veterans. One out of every six men and women in our nation’s homeless shelters are Veterans, and Veterans are 50 percent more likely to fall into homelessness compared to other Americans. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki said, "This contest taps the talent and deep compassion of the Nation’s developer community. We are asking them to make a free, easy-to-use Web and smartphone app that provides current information about housing, health clinics and food banks." The ultimate goal of the contest is to create a national platform that enables health clinics, food kitchens, housing services and shelters to update availability of key services automatically on the Internet. The winning app will collect, map, and electronically distribute that information for communities across the nation. Five finalists will pilot their mobile applications at JBJ Soul Kitchen, where diners can cover the cost of their meals either through donation or volunteer service. "Putting this information in the hands of those who can help will make a tremendous difference in the life of a homeless Veteran or anyone who experiences homelessness," added Jonah Czerwinski, director of the VA Innovation Initiative.
Bon Jovi is a member of President Obama’s White House Council for Community Solutions, and founder of the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping the lives of people facing economic challenges. The Soul Foundation operates the JBJ Soul Kitchen - a community restaurant in Monmouth County, N.J. "At the Soul Kitchen we’ve seen the need for a simple, user-friendly, comprehensive application that connects those in need to resources in their community. As we sought out a solution to resolve the disconnect, we found the VA, HUD and HHS to be of like mind. Together we can provide the information about existing services – now we need the bright minds in the developer community to create a platform to tie it all together" said Jon Bon Jovi. The first five entries to meet the requirements listed at challenge.gov will receive a $10,000 cash prize and the opportunity to test their app at the JBJ Soul Kitchen. The winner will receive a $25,000 prize. In 2008, Bon Jovi, whose parents were Marines, in 2011 teamed up with Project H.O.M.E. in Philadelphia that works with homeless people, including veterans. The Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation helped open Philadelphia’s Covenant House and supported the Covenant House Rights of Passage program and opened a homeless shelter for teens in Philadelphia.
In April 2011 Bon Jovi opens Philadelphia’s Covenant House, a $3 million homeless shelter for teens.