People can lose their homes for all sorts of reasons, from eviction to fleeing an abusive relationship. This often leaves the most vulnerable in our society in a catch-22 situation in which they need to fill in the address field on any number of forms to maintain access to vital financial services or to apply for a job.
As more and more essential services move online, losing an address effectively means losing an essential proof of identity that is the gateway to accessing the very services that might help someone at their lowest point, from government portals to banking apps.
The stigma and suspicion that vulnerable people face when they lose a permanent address also makes it harder for someone couch surfing, or relying on a shelter, to walk into a bank or to provide their details for a payslip for fear of discrimination.
Founded by architect Chris Hildrey, ProxyAddress uses the duplicated address details of existing homes to provide those facing homelessness with a consistent, free address which they can use to access the support they need. ProxyAddresses are provided with explicit consent from property owners – including councils, housing associations, housing developers and private donations – without impacting the original property’s credit score, value, or postal deliveries.
The economic impact of COVID-19 has placed over half a million households into rent arrears and an estimated 45,000 households are expected to be pushed into homelessness as a result. With ProxyAddress, local authorities can employ existing resources for positive intervention, helping more people to get back on their feet.
Amiqus are taking part in the live pilot of ProxyAddress with Lewisham Council by providing the remote identity verification software which enables ProxyAddress to issue a vulnerable person with their credentials in compliance with anti-fraud and money laundering regulations. For the Amiqus team, working with ProxyAddress is an example of how tech companies can look beyond their performance targets and apply their solutions to projects with real world social value and impact.
Amiqus CEO Callum Murray believes that, now more than ever, business leaders should be considering the role they want to play in shaping the new economy that will come after the pandemic and to make using business as a force for good both a strategic and ethical priority.
Murray said, “homlessness and financial inclusion are complex issues to navigate. ProxyAddress has the potential to provide an early intervention and improve access to financial services and social care.
“The way society and our economy interact is changing, there’s a redesign required so that everyone has access. Research has shown that the risk of homelessness is very real for many. I believe ProxyAddress has the potential to ensure being homeless is a temporary period of instability for someone by providing routes to recovery and support.
“I first came across the ProxyAddress project after someone forwarded me an article about Chris’s idea. Reading it on the bus to work, it became clear to me that ProxyAddress could be game-changing, and that our knowledge of how to prove identity with technology, in line with the latest anti-money laundering and data privacy regulations, could help the project roll out to a live pilot.
“After meeting Chris nearly two years ago, to now be at the point where our technology is contributing to his vision, along with all the other partners including Barclays, Monese, Crisis, The Big Issue and more, has been a huge cause for celebration across our whole team.”
Chris Hildrey, founder of ProxyAddress, said: “This pilot is the first step to ProxyAddress opening up support for everyone, no matter their situation. Until stable housing and wrap-around support are available to those who need it most, innovative ways to bridge this gap are needed. We’re delighted to work with Amiqus on this pilot and towards making ProxyAddress available to all.”