In the Netherlands, a new jacket allows homeless people to receive donations through an inbuilt card reader.
The number of homeless people in the Netherlands increased by 74% between 2009 and 2015. The population of people without a fixed address who sleep in shelters, on the streets, in public buildings or with relatives and friends has risen from 13,000 to about 31,000 people in just 6 years. We have seen an increasing number of innovative programmes and solutions addressing the issue of homelessness. This Texan company employs transitioning homeless people to package products ready for shipping, donating one item for every one sold, and this app which provides the connection between corporate food waste and homeless people who who need it. In the Netherlands, designers have created a jacket with a secure card reader sewn into it, enabling passersby to donate to the homeless using their credit or debit cards.
Instead of holding out a hand or a coffee cup, those asking for money can point to their chest. The jacket works like this. Homeless users press a button that engages the reader in their coat. The screen then directs those donating to hold their card against the reader and one Euro is automatically debited from their account. Those donating will be able to see a payment specification on their statement, including a personal thank you note from the homeless person in question. The charitable can be sure that euro is well spent since the money donated can be turned into a meal, bath or sleeping place in cooperating care institutions for the homeless. Since many homeless centers in the Netherlands ask for a contribution of about EUR 5 per night, the system offers a simple way for homeless shelters to accept those with credit in their account. As the jacket’s creators, Carsten van Berkel and Stefan Leendertse explain, “People have less cash in their pockets. For the homeless who rely on the loose change people carry, this can be difficult. And if you have a single euro on you and give it to a homeless person, then you don’t know what happens to it. A device that overcomes both of these problems is ideal.”
The technology also includes a feature allowing wearers to set aside any extra income, enabling homeless users to save up for anything from a training course to the deposit for an apartment. Are there other tech-enabled innovations that can support those in dire straights to make the transition out?