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Startup Tackles Affordable Housing Crisis - By jkukura - January 17, 2017 - SF Weekly
SF Weekly

Startup Tackles Affordable Housing Crisis

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While affordable housing does exist in the Bay Area, the application process is often so time-consuming and bureaucratic that applicants simply give up and stay on the streets. One Bay Area startup is determined to simplify this process into an online application that takes only minutes to complete, and they’ve just been awarded a large grant from the Rockefeller Foundation and startup accelerator the Unreasonable Institute.

Haven Connect digitizes paper applications for affordable housing to streamline the application process, which often takes several weeks and the waiting list sometimes lasts for years. The Bay Area startup was just awarded $100,000 from the Future Cities Accelerator that gives grants to companies who solve modern urban problems for low-income populations.

“We look forward to providing affordable housing providers and cities a more efficient, integrated and unified platform to simplify the housing process,” Haven Connect Founder and CEO Caroline Caselli said in a release. “Our platform helps low-income people stay on the waitlist and thus, greatly increases their chance of getting housing, while simultaneously helping cities and housing providers lower their costs by moving their analog processes to the cloud.”

The wait list for low-income housing often takes multiple years for an individual applicant to be served. Once their spot on the list is reached, most applicants are no longer available via the contact information listed on their application. Furthermore, most applicants apply to multiple different housing facilities in separate, redundant systems that do not communicate with one another.

Haven Connect allows for a single application to be sent to multiple housing facilities. The web-based system also allows for automatic updating of phone numbers or other contact information, so the applicant can still be reached.

A web app like Haven Connect will not create more affordable housing in the Bay Area. But Haven Connect makes it far more plausible that an applicant will get the housing that they need. If you’re applying for affordable housing, realize there’s an app for your application to get processed more quickly and smoothly.