News article

Date: 29. July 2016

Homeless in Melbourne:
Dating App Reveals All

Melbourne’s Council to Homeless Persons has announced a new campaign to highlight the plight of homelessness in the city. The campaign is targeting homeless people through the location-based dating app Happn.

Mobile dating app Happn uses data based on a person’s location in order to match them with other users who are nearby. However, with this campaign users walking down the street will not only be introduced to potential singles. Jody, for example, is one of them: a 43-year-old who lived in a van for three months after she lost her home and her job.

She stated…

…I don’t think that anyone would have noticed that I was homeless.

Jody explains that she doesn’t feel like she fits the stereotype and that passers-by wouldn’t take any notice of her. She stresses that homelessness is something that can happen to literally anyone, and hopes that by having a profile on the app it would help to expose homelessness’s invisible side.

Sleeping Rough Isn’t the Only Sign

Homelessness is unfortunately a big issue in Melbourne. In recent times, there has been a considerable increase of people who are sleeping rough. Jenny Smith of the Council to Homeless Persons said that those who sleep rough aren’t the only ones suffering and indeed aren’t the only sign of homelessness.

Ms. Smith said, "As we go about our business we are going past people who are sleeping in the backs of cars, living in caravan parks, couch surfing with acquaintances, in a range of very temporary overnight arrangements without a place to call home."

According to Smith, she wouldn't have known at all that Jody had been sleeping in her car. This was despite the fact that Jody's van was only 100 metres from where she works. She says that Happn is something of an opportunity as it helps to highlight what homelessness actually is.

Lack of Strategy

Using the dating app as a way of reaching out to others is definitely unconventional. However, Smith states that it is a good way of getting to an audience who may not have much exposure to other types of media. According to her, there is also no strategy to fight homelessness or even try and create low-cost housing.

"We've just been through a federal election and elected a Government which doesn't have any policy to deal with this," Ms. Smith said.