Innovation That Matters

Chatbot helps homeless youths apply for housing

Nonprofit & Social Cause

DoNotPay is back again with another innovation, this time offering those without a home legal advice to do with their housing applications.


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In February this year tenant evictions reached the highest on record. Finding emergency housing can be a complicated process and often requires an understanding of the services that are out there to help — but this is something that many victims of homelessness don’t possess. The London born Stanford Graduate, Joshua Browder has created a bot that helps the homeless access housing services.

The innovation comes from the creator of DoNotPay, a bot designed to help people appeal against fines for parking tickets, and claim compensation for delayed flights or payment protection insurance amongst other things. It works by asking questions such as whether the user lives in the UK, whether they are legally homeless and how they became homeless, then using the information to figure out the best way to help the individual. This help may involve, for example, drafting a legal letter the user can send to their local council.

Along with a team of volunteer lawyers, Browder says he used data gathered via the Freedom of Information Act to understand why public housing applications are approved or denied. This is so the bot can create the best possible application for each individual. UK homeless charity, Centrepoint, are supporting the project. The charity’s databank found only 13,000 out of 130,000 young people in England who went to their local authority because they were homeless were successful in receiving statutory support. Gaia Marcus, the manager of Centrepoint’s youth homelessness databank sees the benefit of this innovation, explaining that “It’s easy to turn away a young person who doesn’t know what they’re entitled to.”

Could a version of this app help refugees apply for work visas?



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