OC Chris creates innovative project to help homeless people
Developed by OC and architect Chris Hildrey, ProxyAddress has started its pilot in the London borough of Lewisham. The service uses the duplicated address details of existing homes to provide those facing homelessness with a consistent, secure, and free address which they can use to access the support they need.
Losing your home means losing your address. But in 21st century Britain, an address is not just a location – it’s a de facto form of ID; without one, people experiencing homelessness can be prevented from accessing vital services like maintaining or opening a bank account, applying for a job or a driving license, accessing benefits, receiving post, or even registering with a GP.
Chris says: ‘Nobody should be left alone or without recourse to help in times of need. The action already taken to help rough sleepers during the Covid-19 pandemic is a silver lining to a tragic situation but there remains a systemic barrier to helping those facing all types of homelessness: instability. Until stable housing and wrap-around support is available for all we need to find innovative ways to help those trapped in precarious situations. Now, more than ever, we have a duty to provide a lifeline to those most in need.’
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.
Just like the 800,000 letters sent in the UK each year to Santa’s Grotto in Reindeerland – which ultimately go to a sorting office in Belfast– for post, the ProxyAddress serves only as a routing instruction rather than a final destination. Mail addressed to a person at their ProxyAddress can be redirected to a collection point of their choosing, ensuring their details – and ability to access support – stay the same throughout the recovery journey, no matter how often they move.
You can find out more about ProxyAddress HERE