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San Francisco-based Tech Group Proposes Using AI to Address Unhoused Rates


San Francisco-based tech groups recently announced a new competition known as Accelerate SF competition to address the city’s issues, such as the rates of unhoused individuals.

Set for Sep. 23 and 24, the hack-a-thon is dedicated to solving issues in San Francisco using AI. With projects planned surrounding San Francisco problems such as housing, public infrastructure and those who are unhoused, the event focuses on using artificial intelligence to aid in providing relief to these issues.

Collaborating with local stakeholders,  the event has participants work on projects to help the city in two days. 

While there’s a variety of projects surrounding the city’s most pressing issues, helping those who are unhoused is a common theme among the projects. Per the online magazine Mission Local, the Accelerate SF creators announced that one of the challenges will revolve around using large language models to help with housing for those who are living on the streets.  Known as a type of artificial intelligence, or more simply referred to as AI, large language models, or LLMs, are able to process large amounts of text. Using the technology, the engineers plan on finding a way of helping businesses with entering information for permit-application forms to speed up the process of creating homes. 

The creators also announced an idea that focuses on simplifying data sets for government officials to efficiently determine how much resources are allotted to issues such as individuals forced to live on the San Francisco streets. 

“This is obviously not going to solve homelessness, for sure, but it can definitely have a positive impact on house prices,” said co-creator and former data analyst for Palantir, Anthony Jancso, per Mission Local. “Technology is a way to do more with less resources, and large language models are a new technology to do more with less resources.”

While the rates of unhoused individuals are increasing across the nation, San Francisco, in particular, is amongst the cities that are recording the highest rates.  According to a recent report by the San Francisco government, the city is the third in highest overall rates, recording a rate of 646 unhoused individuals per every 100,000 San Francisco citizens. 

Per a report by the San Francisco Chronicle, a disproportionate amount of those unhoused in the city are Black Americans. 

While they make up only six percent of the people living in the California city, Black Americans recorded the highest rates of those without a home, making up 37% of the San Francisco unhoused population.  Overall, Black Americans were found to be ten times more likely to be unhoused in San Francisco when compared to white Americans. 

To address the rates of those who are unhoused, the city of San Francisco announced in April that the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing will devote approximately 41% of its resources, totaling up to $238 million, to support Black-led organizations.

The funds will go specifically towards building infrastructure and addressing the systemic racism that has contributed to the disproportionately high levels. 

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