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Homeless US programmer creates social app which can help lower gas emissions in NYC

Published time: December 11, 2013 17:01
Edited time: December 13, 2013 10:51
Still from YouTube video/Patrick McConlogue

Still from YouTube video/Patrick McConlogue

One New York City homeless man may not have a place to call his own, but he does have something that’s pretty impressive: his own smartphone app.

Given the choice between a hundred bucks and lessons in computer programming, Leo Grand chose technology, and his decision is finally paying off. On Tuesday, his app called “Trees for Cars” launched on Apple and Android phones for $0.99.

The story began in August, when a professional programmer named Patrick McConlogue approached Grand, a former MetLife employee who was priced out of his apartment in 2011, with a proposition: Either take $100 right then and there, or receive a cheap laptop and some textbooks in order to learn how to code.

Still from YouTube video/Patrick McConlogue

Grand chose to study, and McConlogue spent an hour with him every weekday before shuffling off to work. A nearby apartment complex let Grand charge his computer there, and once that was done he would head out into the street and spend three or four hours teaching himself to code. The decision was always an easy one for Grand.

“I can go through $100 in a few days,” he told the New York Post. “But he told me I could have a laptop and learn how to do something and I figured it could turn into something more.”

The result? An app named Trees for Cars, which attempts to help lower greenhouse gas emissions by connecting local users who’d be willing to carpool together. The driver chooses a meeting point, and the app then suggests nearby riders. If both the driver and riders accept each other’s invitations, they’ll be connected and can meet together for a carpool. The app also details how much carbon dioxide is saved by each ride, which encourages people to continue decreasing their carbon footprint.

Grand is hoping to rent his own apartment with the sales off the app, but while his story is certainly inspiring, it’s one of the few bright spots in New York City’s homeless epidemic. As RT reported on Tuesday, the number of homeless residents sleeping in city shelters each night has reached its highest level since the Great Depression in the 1930s, and it has increased by 69 percent since 2002.

More alarming is that one in five children in the United States are currently living in poverty, and the number of homeless children in New York has surpassed 22,000 – also the highest since the Great Depression. The New York Times recently chronicled the lifestyle of one child named Dasani, who lives in a Brooklyn shelter with her family that features rotting walls and a mop bucket as a toilet.

As New York continues to battle this problem, Grand told the Post one thing that is tough to change is the public’s perception of the homeless.

“It’s really hard to convince people that you are not a bad person, or a drug addict or a crazy,” he said. “How are you gonna do that when you are homeless, and that’s how the homeless are depicted.”

Comments (9)


abdulMuid 25.01.2014 01:45

Djamer 12.12.2013 21:19

How about an app to connect homeless people, especially people with young children, with people like me who have spare rooms or want to provide a place to stay until they get back on their feet? Of course, that would mean the homeless people need to have a smart phone. . .hmmmmm


not so, if you are serious then someone can put you in touch with a homeless mother with children and you can still do that which you say, if your serious, you can help if you want to smartphone or not.


Derren Etienne 14.12.2013 02:02

I admire Leo for what he has achieved, it says more about the man than people are giving him credit to create an app that is centred on the environment and not on his immediate problem of homelessness. This is unselfishness personified. I have bought his app, and I wish him every success.

But Leo, you need to lose the hitler moustache my man! Lol!

I'm guessing that like anyone else you'll end up googling your own name and will most likely find this article and read these comments and I'd like to just wish you all the best from the UK.



Dimitry Michann 13.12.2013 17:38

how bout an app to connect hot 11 year olds who need a ride to school and ride back to my house? That seems more helpful for the environment

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