Unhoused | Ending Homelessness Case Study
Unhoused is a social impact startup where online retail meets clothing bank. Founded by London couple Varun Bhanot and Anisha Seth, Unhoused’s StreetWear operates on a “one for one” business model, which means that for every item of clothing bought on their website, Unhoused donates an equivalent item of clothing to a homeless individual in London.
Founded in 2018 by partners Varun Bhanot and Anisha Seth, Unhoused sells winter supplies such as blankets, jumpers, socks, gloves and underwear with the objective of donating equivalent, brand new items. These items of clothes include the ‘the world’s first self cleaning hoodie’ which repels dirt, liquid and stains off its surface and therefore need to be washed less, increasing its durability and lifespan, which can be key for someone who is homeless.
It is also possible to pay for a haircut, female sanitary products, a £10 phone credit top-up and a coffee from Starbucks, providing services and essential items to those unable to afford them otherwise.
One difference, Bhanot suggests, between Unhoused and other homeless charities is the person contributing can see where their donation is being used. He told the Independent; “people sometimes suffer from fatigue, where there are so many opportunities to give but you never see where it ends up going and how it helps people....so we thought why don’t we build this transparent process where you can follow your donation to the end”.
According to the StreetWear website, “people don’t give as much money to homeless people on the street anymore” stating that this was due to people believing it will go towards “perpetuating destructive cycles”, whilst with big charities contributors don’t see where their money goes.
Those who purchase clothes are then sent photos, videos of items donated through the website and messages from the final recipients of the items.
According to their website, Unhoused has distributed 100,000 items to date, helping 2,000 people. According to their data analytics those who use the StreetWear have an average basket of £23. This is more than people give out on the street as well as the median £10 donation that the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) says is given to homeless charities.
In an interview with London On The Inside, Unhoused stated that they have a number of ideas for the future, including: using financial technology and setting up a digital bank for the homeless, micro-mortgages for micro-homes and developing technology that can make clothing more durable and sustainable, as seen in the ‘self-washing’ hoodie mentioned above.
Over the next couple of months, we will be releasing further case studies and big ideas from both retail and other industries on how they are trying to address homelessness.
We will also be releasing toolkits on recognising vulnerability to homelessness and the impact of in-work poverty, and encouraging compassionate ways to manage rough sleeping in your area.
We will also be signposting to volunteering opportunities from now and over the Christmas period to help those without proper shelter as we work to eradicate rough sleeping once and for all.
At Revo, we support the people and businesses involved in the diverse world of retail property and placemaking to thrive and prosper. Get in touch to find out more.