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Technology and Homelessness: How Accessibility and Blockchain Technology Could Impact the Unhoused

Although technology could be used to combat inequality, it is instead increasing it. This paper discusses how the unhoused population suffers at the hand of technological inequality despite being relatively offline. It presents theories on how this would change if we reapproached how technology is used to assist the unhoused. It suggests implementing blockchain as a resource as well as modifying the websites built for the unhoused. Employees at shelters are interviewed for this paper about their experiences with using digital resources to rehouse and restabilize the vulnerable. They are asked how the sites can be improved for more optimized use. The sites are also tested against current UX standards for accessibility.

Currently, they are extremely outdated and difficult to navigate. It also suggests that blockchain would assist the unhoused population in their ability to get the government assistance that they are entitled to in the U.S. Blockchain is, put simply, a network of distributed and encrypted pieces of data, which is already frequently used by the government to store sensitive data. It has been suggested in prior research papers about the unhoused population that blockchain could be used to store identification data, such as a copy of a birth certificate, drivers license, or other vital documents, which can be easily lost when one is living transiently. This impacts someone’s ability to get food stamps, get a job, remain a legal citizen, and receive healthcare, among other things. Blockchain could assist this population, but there are barriers that might make that difficult to implement, specifically when it comes to potential concerns from participants about personal security.