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Berkeley Plans To Use Blockchain Technology To Help Homeless

The homeless problem in the Bay Area  isn’t an easy problem to solve. It takes money, political will, focus and coordination.  The city of Berkeley, California may have found a solution. According to a recent press release, Berkeley plans to launch the Berkeley Blockchain Initiative, or BBI, to use blockchain technology to combat the affordable housing crisis. This would make Berkeley the first city in the United States to sell digital “tokens” as part of a crowdfunding campaign.

Mayor Jesse Arreguín and City Council member Ben Bartlett are heading this project along with campus Blockchain Lab and with Neighborly, a technology firm that aims to re-imagine municipal finance for the contemporary landscape. Berkeley plans to use blockchain, a digital technology that creates a ledger of economic transactions, to create bonds for funding affordable housing projects.

By working with Neighborly and the UC Berkeley Blockchain Lab, Berkeley is looking to use the power of blockchain and the cryptocurrency movement for social good. Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin commented: “Cities must look toward new funding methods to solve their most intractable problems, especially in the face of diminished federal support. Berkeley is proud to once again be leading the way in solving problems through public financing.”

The City Council began exploring blockchain technology about a year ago as part of the city’s efforts to explore alternative methods of funding in anticipation of a possible decrease in federal funding from the Trump administration, according to Bartlett.

As of right now, Berkeley has about 1,000 homeless people and rents continue to increase. Arreguín and Bartlett have both named homelessness as a key issue in their platforms.

“We’re not going to accept that there’s no money, we’re going to create it,” Bartlett said. “Blockchain technology is the future of public finance and human economic interactions.”

The project will be privately funded, with support from city officials. According to Bartlett, Neighborly is underwriting this project.

“We feel that since this new economy is emerging, Berkeley should shape it,” Bartlett said. “We have the human ethic to make sure the human economy is just and results in shared prosperity.”

The article first appeared in Business Insider