Dating App Shines Light On Hidden Homelessness

Dating App Shines Light On Hidden Homelessness

It’s a little known fact that only five per cent of Australia’s 110,000 homeless ‘sleep rough’ in public places. The remainder are largely invisible to us, they’re people (and often families) forced into refuges, roaming houses, motels, cars, vans or onto couches and floors. It’s an unseen epidemic that ‘Homelessness Happns’, a campaign by Victoria’s peak homelessness body, the Council to homeless persons, hopes to address via a pro-bono initiative from Melbourne agency, By All Means.

Homelessness Happns, launched during Homelessness Week, highlights just how close to home homelessness can be via the hugely popular dating app ‘Happn’, which uses geo-location technology to introduce you to people you cross paths with.

“Homelessness is much more than rough sleeping. We catch the tram with people experiencing homelessness, and we wait in line at the supermarket together, yet we probably wouldn’t even know it. Homelessness Happns is a campaign that shows that homelessness can happen to anyone at any time regardless of their age, or employment status,” said Jenny Smith, CEO, Council to Homeless Persons.

The campaign unexpectedly introduces users of the app in Melbourne to profiles of individuals who have experienced hidden homelessness. The profiles appear within Happn whenever a user passes by a location where these spokespeople once experienced homelessness – allowing individual stories of hidden homelessness to be revealed, at the locations where they occurred.

By All Means’ co-creative director Toby Cummings said, “Homelessness is a topical issue, and has been for some time – the problem, of course, is that people tend to switch off, so it’s important to keep finding new ways to talk about the problem.

“We’re thrilled that this campaign, which has taken over a year to come together, has been of some service for continuing the conversation. The novel use of the dating app platform has allowed the conversation to be pushed into mainstream media otherwise unreceptive to another story about homelessness.”

ByAllMeans liam Hero

The campaign calls on the Federal Government to extend critical national homelessness funding set to soon expire. The National Partnership Agreement on Homelessnes (NPAH) funds about 180 programs nationally and assists 80,000 people each year.

Client: Council to Homeless Persons (CHP)

Creative Agency: By All Means

Creative Directors: Ed Howley & Toby Cummings

Managing Director: Mat Cummings

Photographer: Heather Dinas

Stills Producer: Jayma Nann

Video DoP/Director: Michael Bainbridge

Website: Monica Clapcott

Logo Design: Richard Walker

Retouching: Robotfeet


CEO: Jenny Smith

Manager Policy and Communications: Kate Colvin

Media and Communications Officer: Lanie Harris

Media and Communications Officer: Eddie Staltari

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