San Francisco 311 App Does Double Duty to Help Homeless Population

Mayor Ed Lee urged residents to use the city's 311 application to report those who appear to be in need of “well-being checks.”

Mobile 311 applications have become an important tool for local governments in the fight to keep up with city maintenance and services, but San Francisco has added another feature to its application to focus on the needs of an at-risk population: the homeless.

In a new take on a time-tested technology, city officials have added a feature to request services for the city’s homeless population. While the app includes typical features, like graffiti and abandoned vehicle reporting, the newly added tab lets users request special attention for homeless individuals or the areas they inhabit.

On Oct. 8, Mayor Ed Lee urged app users to take advantage of the smartphone-based tool's upgrade, which gives users a seamless, one-stop option to reporting non-emergency situations.

“Today, we take a step forward as a compassionate city, providing this new way for constituents to let us know about a person who needs a well-being check,” Lee said in a statement. “Walking past someone suffering on the streets does not reflective [sic] our San Francisco values. Our residents want to help, and we are providing easy ways for them to do that. These enhancements to the SF311 app will give people who live, work or visit San Francisco a way to let the city know about homeless residents who might need help accessing safe, clean emergency shelters, vital services or finding permanent housing.”

Since launching SF311 in August of 2013, the city has received more than 181,300 service requests through the mobile platform.

Eyragon Eidam is the Web editor for Government Technology magazine, after previously serving as assistant news editor and covering such topics as legislation, social media and public safety. He can be reached at