Baltimore Online Tool Helps Homeless Population Manage Essential Documents

The City of Baltimore, Maryland has launched an online tool to give people experiencing homelessness a secure place to manage digital copies of the essential documents they need to obtain housing and other services.

‘My Digital Data Locker Baltimore’ allows clients of the Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services (MOHS) a virtual place to securely store and share electronic copies of documents – such as birth certificates and identification cards – with housing case managers and program staff. Clients can manage their own accounts on the platform and control who has access to their documents. The initiative is led by the MOHS and Baltimore’s Continuum of Care (CoC) – a collaborative body which co-ordinates homelessness efforts.

“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,” said Tisha S. Edwards, Acting Director of the Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services. “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.”

This initiative is part of Baltimore’s anti-homelessness strategy and homeless response system. MOHS and the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration partnered to secure state-issued identification cards for individuals experiencing homelessness – a critical step in MOHS clients becoming “document ready” to receive housing through City housing programs. MOHS worked with Amazon Web Services (AWS), New America’s Digital Impact, and the Governance Initiative (DIGI) to create the secure document management tool which is built on a serverless cloud-native architecture. The code developed for the solution by technical design studio Two Bulls is open source and available on Github. Other US city homeless services agencies are invited to trial it later this year working with New America.

“To eliminate homelessness, we must eliminate the barriers that stand in the way of our neighbours accessing housing,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “I want to thank MOHS, the CoC and all of our partners for using technology and ingenuity to close the gap between people experiencing homelessness and their access to permanent housing.”