For most cities across the world the homeless situation isn’t working for anyone. But what if there were a way for citizens to easily use their phones to contribute money towards proven methods for reducing homelessness?
There’s a point where someone becomes so poor, it becomes expensive. When you don’t even have a place to store food, you have to buy expensive small amounts that you can carry on your person. And homeless people have no base from which to escape this trap. Already experiencing mental illness, people are pushed into extremes that would make the best of us seem "unemployable". For society, the day-to-day services required to handle these people are significantly more expensive over the long term than many proven solutions.
Although the underlying root causes are complicated, the brutal truth is upwards of 70% percent of the homeless spend money made begging on vices like alcohol, drugs and cigarettes. That means when people give their 50 cents to homeless people, it often perpetuates a vicious circle of poverty and vice to get them through the day. Many live in an area and see the same homeless person for years, it’s natural to wonder why they aren’t doing something better? With the proper support, they could.
Research shows longer-term solutions like six months of housing and support offer a much greater chance for people to get back on their feet than any other means. Doubling the odds is amazing but what’s the downside? These “Housing First” programs are expensive and don’t convince all cynics.
But what if we could reduce the financial burden of this problem on the city while increasing the effectiveness of all those thousands of small 50 cent donations already being made and also engaging locals?
Installed on your phone, this app lets you participate in a system that changes your city by allowing you to contribute money to a City-managed fund dedicated to dealing with homelessness. Able to track your location, you can electronically donate to the homeless while walking around your city.
Step 1: Download the app.
Step 2: Choose the amount you wish to donate from a cent or more whenever you encounter a homeless person or feel like contributing.
Step 3: Drop pins to mark where a homeless person is for 24 hours and help raise funds.
Step 4: Your money goes into collective fund that houses, feeds and helps the homeless get their lives back together.
Step 5: As you achieve certain milestones you recieve cards that can be traded in for medium and long term accomodation around the city which you can personally give out.
This solution works for everyone. Many people in the “tough love” crowd have an issue with the money being spent irresponsibly, this reduces that possibility which unlocks more net funding potentential than before. By pooling the already willing donations with people who would not have given before the city has more money to spend on Housing First programs.
With a three-person team, we could build a scalable version of this application in a year. Passionate about this project, we’ve completed initial planning, and our team members include talent with experience building similar high-traffic apps but looking to create something delivering a greater public good.