Australia’s first homelessness hackathon showcases real-life solutions for disadvantaged community members
7 June, 2017: An idea that marries big data with online resources could potentially solve one of the biggest problems facing people experiencing homelessness – being detached from the wider community.
The Neighbour In Need (NIN) online platform was crowned the winner of Australia’s first Homelessness Hackathon which gathered technology, social, design and business experts under one roof at Common Ground Queensland to formulate solutions for people facing homelessness.
“We wanted to build something that was going to improve the lives of people facing homelessness,” NIN team member Bobby Hale said.
“Based on our research with those facing homelessness (past and present), we discovered that one of their biggest challenges was becoming a part of and getting connected to the wider community,” Mr Hale said.
NIN is an online platform that allows people to connect with homeless people in their local area according to their postcode. It offers a simple, one-click solution to access their local MP about relevant policy.
Users can get involved in activities or projects in that particular area such as sport or community gardening.
Mr Hale believes NIN could potentially save the state government $10 million per annum based on the average spent per person experiencing homelessness.
Team NIN was awarded $1,500 by Housing and Public Works Minister Mick de Brenni.
The Minister was on hand to witness all finalists pitch at the hackathon last week.
Tied for second place was Home.Ly and Upward Trajectory which received a $500 voucher each.
Home.Ly is a real estate platform for matching homeless people with vacant properties. Upward Trajectory facilitates the transition of people from social housing to private tiny housing.
In third spot was Pay It Forward Finance, a service that helps young women get out of debt. The team won a three-month membership at River City Labs plus access to sponsored entrepreneur programs and mentoring opportunities.
Pet, Sit ‘n’ Stay received four months’ hot desk membership at The Coterie, QUT Creative Enterprise Australia (CEA), valued at $440.
Pet, Sit ‘n’ Stay matches carers with pets left behind when someone loses their home.
Help Text and Second Room won a smartphone each.
Not-for-profit organisation Marist 180 was the main organiser for the Homelessness Hackathon, a potential first in the world in the way it has used pre-engagement strategies.
The event was funded by the Department of Housing’s Dignity First Fund with the support of partners Orange Sky Laundry, River City Labs, Urban Informatics @ QUT Design Lab, The Incus Group and Common Ground QLD.
Marist 180 social innovation manager Steve Williams thanked Minister de Brenni and the Department of Housing for backing the hackthon, saying: “without the Dignity First Fund we wouldn’t be here”.
Mr Williams also acknowledged the role of technology startup hub River City Labs “where he got to understand the power of altruism in the tech sector and how we can harness that to create great social change.”
River City Labs CEO and Homelessness Hackathon judge Peta Ellis also thanked the Minister and acknowledged the contribution of all participants.
“We’ve seen some amazing ideas developed at the hackathon that can hopefully be used to positively help people facing homelessness.
“The energy, enthusiasm and passion from everyone involved has been second to none – with a clear focus on helping those in need,” Ms Ellis said.
- NIN is an online platform that allows people to connect with homeless people in their local area according to their postcode. It offers a simple, one-click solution to access their local MP about relevant policy
- Ly is a real estate platform for matching homeless people with vacant properties. It disrupts real estate by unlocking latency while finding homes for those less fortunate
- Upward Trajectory facilitates the transition of people from social housing into private tiny housing by providing lost-cost alternative housing in the inner city
- Pay It Forward Finance is a service that helps young women pay off their debts for up to $5000. People cycle into homelessness due to unmanageable debt and PIFF is a donation driven platform for debt repayment, emergency funding and financial literacy
- Pet, Sit ‘n’ Stay matches carers with pets left behind when someone loses their home
- Help Text offers simple, text-based information in a private and fast manner for those in crisis
- Second Room connects philanthropic hosts with young people who may be distressed
- A total of 23 ideas were pitched on day one of the hackathon (Friday, 2 June)
- Nine teams pitched on Sunday evening (June 4)
- A total of 60 participants took part in the Homelessness Hackathon, comprising people with various backgrounds and skills including technologists, businesspeople, people experiencing homelessness, creatives and lawyers
About Marist 180
Marist 180 is a not-for-profit organisation committed to empowering people with skills, knowledge, practical support and encouragement.
About River City Labs
River City Labs fosters the growth of startup companies solving big problems. We provide resources to empower, support and connect entrepreneurs. Central to everything we do is a focus on collaboration and connection.
Since 2012 over 460 entrepreneurs have called RCL home. Through our events program we have welcomed more than 16,000 guests into our community by hosting over 500 events aimed at supporting founders on their entrepreneurship journey.
River City Labs powers a range of programs, events and engagement opportunities, enabling our Corporate partners to innovate differently and embed their teams within the startup community.
River City Labs is a human-led organisation ensuring founders come first always and every engagement is underpinned by our core values of Give Learn Grow, Take Action and Always Challenge.