My Digital Data Locker Baltimore

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My Digital Data Locker Baltimore
Project My Digital Data Locker Baltimore.jpg
Homeless in Baltimore
Team Organizations Baltimore City
Amazon
Point of Contact Noah Harlan
Jessie Metcalf
Participating Municipalities Baltimore MD
Sectors Wellbeing
Status Launched
Last Updated July 25, 2024

Summary

For those staying in a shelter or shuttling between other people’s homes, keeping track of these vital documents can be near impossible. They also can be lost, destroyed or stolen.

Recognizing that this was blocking some people from securing stable housing, the city of Baltimore this year launched an innovative program — My Digital Data Locker — to help people store and keep track of key documents. Peo­ple with­out sta­ble hous­ing must deal with crit­i­cal chal­lenges, such as fig­ur­ing out where to sleep, how to stay safe and how to rebuild their lives.

They also face a less obvi­ous chal­lenge: how to store and keep track of impor­tant doc­u­ments, includ­ing those that prove iden­ti­ty, cit­i­zen­ship, legal res­i­den­cy, vet­er­an sta­tus or a dis­abil­i­ty, as well as forms need­ed to estab­lish cred­it or prove income. With­out these doc­u­ments, the path out of home­less­ness can be far more difficult.

WHAT IS MY DIG­I­TAL DATA LOCKER?

The new tool — fund­ed by the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion, Kaiser Per­ma­nente, New Amer­i­ca and the Rock­e­feller Foun­da­tion — allows peo­ple deal­ing with a hous­ing cri­sis to store dig­i­tal copies of vital doc­u­ments and share them elec­tron­i­cal­ly when apply­ing for ser­vices offered by the city or oth­er providers. To use it, a per­son snaps pho­tos of doc­u­ments and uploads them to a secure, per­son­al dig­i­tal stor­age site. When need­ed to apply for hous­ing or sup­port ser­vices, the doc­u­ments can be shared with a few clicks on a phone or tablet.

A PUB­LIC-PRI­VATE PARTNERSHIP

The Mayor’s Office of Home­less Ser­vices and the Bal­ti­more City Con­tin­u­um of Care rec­og­nized the need to pro­vide this kind of resource — which has been used in oth­er cities — and con­nect­ed with Ama­zon Web Ser­vices (AWS) to devel­op the plat­form. AWS col­lab­o­rat­ed with the Con­tin­u­um of Care’s Lived Expe­ri­ence Advi­so­ry Com­mit­tee to under­stand the needs of peo­ple expe­ri­enc­ing a hous­ing cri­sis before devel­op­ing the pro­to­type. New America’s Dig­i­tal Impact and Gov­er­nance Ini­tia­tive refined it with sup­port from soft­ware firm, Two Bulls.

“End­ing home­less­ness is a com­mu­ni­ty effort and My Dig­i­tal Data Lock­er Bal­ti­more is a won­der­ful exam­ple of pri­vate and pub­lic sec­tor part­ners lend­ing fund­ing, exper­tise and inno­va­tion to bet­ter serve our neigh­bors expe­ri­enc­ing home­less­ness in the hous­ing appli­ca­tion process,” says Tisha S. Edwards, who was act­ing direc­tor of the Mayor’s Office of Home­less Ser­vices when the pro­gram began. ​“Doc­u­ments are fre­quent­ly lost, stolen or destroyed dur­ing a hous­ing cri­sis. Now, by snap­ping a pho­to with a cell phone and upload­ing it to a secure account, these doc­u­ments will be more eas­i­ly main­tained. Bal­ti­more is proud to pilot this program.”

The My Dig­i­tal Data Lock­er ini­tia­tive is part of a broad­er move­ment in Bal­ti­more City to address home­less­ness. In Feb­ru­ary 2021, the Mayor’s Office of Home­less Ser­vices and the Mary­land Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion Motor Vehi­cle Admin­is­tra­tion announced a new part­ner­ship aimed at secur­ing state-issued iden­ti­fi­ca­tion cards for indi­vid­u­als expe­ri­enc­ing homelessness.

“These are impor­tant steps toward remov­ing hous­ing bar­ri­ers and enabling all peo­ple who live in Bal­ti­more City to access much need­ed resources and sup­port,” says Tal­ib Horne, direc­tor of Casey’s Bal­ti­more Civic Site.

Video showing the operation can be found here.