ProxyAddress gives stable addresses to UK’s homeless in ground-breaking pilot during rent debt crisis
With the temporary protections from Covid due to be removed end of May, and The Budget not addressing financial support for the private rental sector, it is feared there will be a wave of repossessions and a surge in homelessness in the coming months.
ProxyAddress, is an initiative supported by Geovation and Ordnance Survey, which provides the homeless with a consistent, secure, and free address which they can use to access the support they need during periods of instability.
A pilot programme in Lewisham has been trialled successfully with the homeless assigned a ProxyAddress, ensuring their details and ability to access critical support has remained constant throughout the pandemic.
By using existing data to create a consistent 'proxy' address, this provides access to vital services regardless of location or how often the homeless move, such as registering for healthcare services, opening a bank account and applying for a job.
Chris Hildrey, founder of ProxyAddress, said: "Thousands of people across the UK have already lost jobs, exhausted savings, or fallen into rent arrears during the pandemic. With the furlough scheme, Universal Credit increase, and the ban on bailiff-enforced evictions all set to be removed later this year, it is vital that those hit the hardest have access to a safety net when facing this cliff edge.
"An address is not just a location, it’s a form of ID and without one, people experiencing homelessness can be prevented from accessing vital services to help them get back on their feet. With this pilot, ProxyAddress is making its first real-world changes to help ensure that the loss of an address no longer means the loss of support.”
Research from Shelter has revealed that one in seven adults (14%), equivalent to more than six million people, in England are more worried about becoming homeless due to the pandemic, while ProxyAddress’ own national research shows that 1 in 5 people in the UK know someone who has been homeless in the past 3 years.
The economic impact of Covid has placed over 450,000 households into rent arrears and during the pandemic over 68,000 households needed help from their local council to prevent or end their homelessness. With concerns that the rent debt crisis could lead to further homelessness, there are calls to make the Universal Credit uplift permanent, unfreezing Local Housing Allowance, giving security to private renters, and investing in social and affordable housing for those most likely to become, or remain, homeless.
Carly Morris, Head of Geovation, said: "“Our aim is to help support startups and innovators like ProxyAddress who are making a difference in society and solving real-world challenges. This year, more than ever, in the midst of crisis we have all relied on a safe and secure place to call home. Unfortunately, for too many people, this is a basic right that is missing from their lives. We are incredibly proud to support ProxyAddress in their effort to provide the homeless with addresses, which in turn helps them to access vital services, secure jobs and eventually get a roof over their heads."
A report by the Public Accounts Committee suggests that the numbers of people sleeping on the streets - 37,430 - turned out to be around nine times higher than official estimates, raising questions around how the Ministry of Housing plan to deliver on their pledge to end rough sleeping by May 2024.
ProxyAddress will help to reduce the post-Covid costs for local authorities as they can use the platform to help more people get back on their feet, find a home and a job while getting the necessary support they need.
• ProxyAddress was first imagined in 2017 by Chris Hildrey, an award-winning architect, while a Designer in Residence at the Design Museum. Working directly with those experiencing homelessness, Chris made his idea a reality – founding the social enterprise in 2018.
• ProxyAddresses are provided with explicit consent from property owners - including councils, housing associations, housing developers, private donations, and some of the 225,000 long-term vacant homes in England - without impacting the original property’s credit score, value, or postal deliveries.
• ProxyAddress has succeeded in bringing together a large number of collaborative partners, including Crisis, The Big Issue, Barclays, Monzo, Monese, Lewisham Council, Amiqus, Action on Empty Homes, 999 Club, HM Land Registry, and Ordnance Survey. It has also received support from InnovateUK, the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, the Royal Society of Arts, and Arts Council England.
• Chris Hildrey, founder of ProxyAddress, is available for interview.
• A range of images and video assets can be downloaded from our Press Kit here.
• The full Addressing Homelessness Survey can be downloaded here.
• Email: email@example.com
• Direct phone: +44 (0)207 459 4328
• Website: www.proxyaddress.co.uk
• Twitter: @chrishildrey, @proxyaddress
• Hashtag: #proxyaddress