OP3portunities Newsletter

FAIRFAX COUNTY HOUSING HACKATHON 2019

hackathon

It's no secret that housing is expensive in the D.C. area. However, it’s not just affordability that’s a problem. People with disabilities and older adults can face unique housing difficulties.

In an effort to generate innovative solutions for these unique housing needs, Fairfax County along with Virginia Tech and University of Virginia sponsored a “Housing Hackathon.” It brought together more than 70 data analysts, engineers and developers from the private sector, nonprofits and universities whose goal was to help find a better way, using technology, to connect landlords with people who need housing. During the two-day event the group broke into teams and had less than 48 hours to develop innovative tech solutions to one of three housing challenges:

  • Helping to match property owners and people with disabilities to accessible housing units.
  • Finding a better way for people with disabilities to search for accessible units.
  • Connecting older adults who want to rent a room to younger people, including those who are willing to help around the house in exchange for lower rents.

After a day and night of brainstorming and coding, the teams presented their solutions to a panel of five technology, housing and disability experts, who then chose the winner. Not only did the winning team share a $3,000 top prize, they also received an offer from start-up incubator SmartCity Works for assistance in developing their product for commercial use.

And, just as exciting and in the spirit of the project the Houseguides team donated half their winnings, $1500 to the nonprofits Wesley Housing Development Corporation and Rebuilding Together whose missions are to help families thrive in affordable and safe homes. (see below for how to get involved)

 

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  • There’s a shortage of accessible housing for the more than 70,000 people in Fairfax County with disabilities.
  • Only about 5 percent of housing units in the County have accessible features—and it’s difficult to match residents with landlords who have these units.
  • There is no central resource that combines lists of accessible housing units into one streamlined database that can perform multiple-variable searches to make it easier for disabled tenants to connect with units appropriate for their special needs and desired living situation
  • When the County opened a waiting list for its Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program it received more than 13,000 applications, of which 2,000 were randomly selected to be placed on a waiting list for available affordable units.

Avalon BayLogo.

Avalon Bay sponsored the prizes for the winners. Virginia Tech and University of Virginia provided the space for the event to be held!  


HACKATHON
Solution Example:

One team created a website that matches renters with disabilities to apartments with the specific accessible features they needed. This system aggregated data from landlords with accessible units into a single site that renters could search for apartments. The real-time system would automatically put renters on waitlists and make notifications when units became available.

There are many ways you can help seniors and people with disabilities find homes. Here are a few ideas:

If you have an extra room you can rent it to a senior or someone with a disability?

If you own a second property that is accessible be put that information in the listing.

Allow people with Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV) rental assistance, formerly Section 8, to lease your property.

Volunteer or donate to Rebuilding Together, a nonprofit that serves low income homeowners. Their volunteers repair and upgrade homes at no charge to the owner

Donate to Wesley Housing Development Corporation whose mission is to be sure everyone in the Metro area has a safe, affordable and quality home.


 

 

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Visit our website at www.fairfaxcountypartnerships.org
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