Blockchain Technology Benefits Can Help the Homeless In Many Ways
Can The Blockchain Technology Help The Homeless?
Ever since it first emerged, the potential of the blockchain technology was seen as immense. Some even go as far as to say that it is actually limitless and that it can touch and perhaps revolutionize every branch of the industry. However, it can even go further than that and help with numerous problems plaguing the world.
Things like helping refugees, developing the world, reducing poverty, and many similar causes were all predicted to be possible through the use of blockchain. However, another use case of this tech might include providing help to those who need it most – the homeless. In fact, many cities around the world are already making plans regarding the use of blockchains to provide the homeless with easier access to some much-needed services.
The Problem Of Homelessness
The issue of homelessness is huge, and it affects millions of people in the US alone. Some estimations claim that up to 3.5 million US citizens end up being forced to experience this unfortunate issue per year. Over half a million of them are struggling to even find a place to sleep each night.
Not only that, but over half of the homeless include entire families, often with small children. Around 1 in 5 homeless individuals are residents of Los Angeles or New York City. Of course, other large cities throughout the US also have the same issue, with a slightly smaller number of their residents being homeless.
The UK struggles with a similar problem, with over 300,000 of its citizens being homeless. Of course, this is a much smaller number than that in the US, but it is also noteworthy that the UK is also a smaller country, with a far smaller national population.
Homelessness comes as a result of a number of different problems. Some include big changes in life, like loss of a job, or losing a providing family member. Others include things like addiction, mental illness, family disputes, and more. And, while a lot of people forced out of their homes for any given reason can often call on their friends for temporary aid, others end up sleeping in their cars, moving from one place to another, or even ending up on the streets.
Why Everyone Needs An ID
Considering that these people have no means to ensure their personal security, they also can't protect their belongings. This also includes various documents that are used for proving their identity, or social security status. Apart from getting lost or stolen, the rough conditions can also damage the documents as well. Without them, the homeless cannot access even the most basic services.
In the US, for example, more than half of those who cannot prove their identity are denied access to food in various shelters, since they cannot get food stamps. Access to social security benefits is also denied to pretty much the same percentage of those who lack the necessary documentation.
Not only that, but the system denies them the right to get a replacement for their IDs since they need to provide some form of an ID to replace the lost or damaged document. So, basically, they get stuck, and the very services that are there to help them cannot do so. However, this is the part that the blockchain technology can help with.
Project MyPass (Austin, Texas)
Blockchain has proven to be a great way of keeping the identity, since the information recorded on it cannot be lost, tampered with, damaged, or manipulated in any way. Upon verifying a person's identity and storing it on a blockchain, these individuals would not have to carry a physical copy of any recorded document. This is what a project called MyPass, based in Austin, Texas, is trying to accomplish.
Basically, MyPass works by storing a digital version of all necessary documents for the homeless. This includes medical records, IDs, and any other document that an average US citizen needs in order to get proper services. After storing the documents on the blockchain, the individual receives their own login information, which allows them to access their documents via pretty much any device.
They can access the blockchain from a computer, smartphone, and even via text messages. For example, after they visit a medical clinic, the data regarding their medical history will be available to them and their doctors. Additionally, all new data can be stored on the blockchain as well, for the future use. Any and all documents can be retrieved this way, and the person can prove their identity at any time.
Of course, this project is still in its early stages and is currently limited to a very small area. However, in time, it is expected that it will escalate and cover the entire US, and maybe even the entire world someday. The project is funded by the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge, and while there are still a lot of details that need to be taken care of, the project's development is still going at full speed.
Project Fummi (NYC)
We have mentioned already that the NYC is one of the cities with the biggest problem with homelessness, which is why the city has started a similar project. The organization Blockchain for Change entered an official partnership with the city of New York, and last year, they handed out smartphones to 3,000 homeless individuals within the city. All of these phones came with the Fummi app already installed.
The collaboration's goal is to create digital identities for all phone holders. That way, they can access their own accounts and even receive Change Coins. In fact, the coins also already had a preloaded balance, and the phone holders could always earn more by referring additional users or buying various services through the app's platform.
The Next Step
While these projects are a massive step forward when it comes to helping the homeless, they are still limited to areas far too small to have a serious impact on the issue of homelessness, in general. Additionally, these are the only two documented projects that are using the blockchain tech for this purpose. Still, the blockchain community sees this as a big step, and it is already planning what can be done next.
Due to the large role that technology has in our lives, creating digital identities seems like a natural next step. The World Food Program has already had a lot of success in this field in their efforts to provide food for refugees. Additionally, there are other benefits to having a homeless individual's identity registered on the blockchain. For example, by having their records available at all times, shelters can be much more efficient.
This will help the homeless and the shelters alike, and both time and resources can be spared in the process. Not only that but distributing funds to the homeless through digital wallets can also be a much safer and more efficient alternative to cash. The homeless often cannot defend themselves from thieves and muggers, and carrying cash makes them easy targets. Some particular cryptos, however, are entirely traceable, and so various charities can make sure that all funds for the homeless actually reach them, and even show where these funds are being spent.
Obviously, the homeless are the most vulnerable members of the society, which is something that stands true in every country around the world. The new technologies like cryptocurrencies and blockchains can help with all aspects of their lives, and make it easier to live in such a tough situation.