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Austin Proposes Using Blockchain Technology to Help Its Homeless

The city wants to give its 7,000 citizens without permanent homes "[u]nique digital identifiers" to help them get reliable access to services.
March 5, 2018, 11am PST | Katharine Jose
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Homeless Person
Philip Arno Photography

Last week, Bloomberg Philanthropies awarded up to $100,000 to 35 projects as part of the initial phase of the 2018 US Mayors Challenge. 

One of those project is from Austin; the city aims to use blockchain technology—the kind that is used in cryptocurrency—to make it easier for the city's estimated 7,000 homeless residents to access services. The proposal was inspired by efforts to use blockchain ID for Syrian refugees. 

"The technology could be used to create unique digital identifiers for homeless people, allowing them to reestablish the credibility of their housing, health, and employment records and help put them on the road to recovery." 

Housing prices and homelessness are up in a number of major U.S. cities, and Austin is not the first to look to the tech industry for a solution; Berkeley is considering using blockchain to issue tokens that could be redeemed at local stores. The goal of selling such tokens would be to raise money for affordable housing. 

 

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Published on Thursday, February 22, 2018 in Quartz
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