Last year, Ben Bartlett, a member of the Berkeley City Council, proposed an unusual idea to his colleagues: putting affordable housing on the blockchain. The city was facing an unprecedented housing crisis and the prospect of cuts to federal housing assistance. Why not turn to local residents to help fund a solution? The city would issue bonds, as governments often do when they need to finance big-ticket projects, and break them up into small pieces called “minibonds.” City residents could invest as little as $25. In return, they’d get a small amount of interest and perhaps a dash of civic pride, too.

Gregory Barber covers cryptocurrency, blockchain, and artificial intelligence for WIRED.

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