Inspiration

Redlining and zoning laws seemed like interesting issues to tackle, and it bothered us that our hometown of Austin has one of the highest levels of racial and economic segregation in the United States.

What it does

The Grassroots Housing website has 3 main components. An interactive map containing both redlining divisions and current racial and economic statistics informs users about how historical policies have shaped Austin’s current issues. A map showing locations of empty office spaces and parking lots, along with an Affordable Housing petition empowers users to take action to fix these issues. Our Affordable Housing Inventory shows affordable housing units in the Austin area, providing a short-term solution for users looking to find affordable housing in wealthier areas of Austin.

How we built it

HTML and CSS was used to format the website's four different pages. JavaScript was used to implement Google Maps, as well as to add various markers and pop-ups. jQuery was used for event handling (i.e button navigation). For the back end, we used Flask and Flask_Restful to process and return the relevant data for queries from the user interface, and Pandas to format the data. The back-end server and website were run on Microsoft Azure

Challenges we ran into

From a data-gathering standpoint, finding zoning demographic data for redlining districts was pretty difficult. The web scraping elements of our back-end were also quite challenging, particularly scraping abandoned lot data from property site. Also, we ran into a few problems with finding the center of our polygon districts on our redlining map to place the information popup.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Our group was proud of the fact that we were able to create multiple interactive maps containing color-coded layers and pop-up menus. We're also happy that our website converts addresses into geolocations, contains accurate zoning demographics, and overall has an aesthetic design.

What we learned

Our group learned how to use Microsoft Azure and process JSON files. We furthered our knowledge of the Google Map API. Additionally, we learned a lot about redlining and segregation zoning laws.

What's next for Grassroots Housing

The next step for Grassroots Housing would be to raise it to a national scale, and add other cities to the website. It would also be beneficial to provide users with more resources to get involved (i.e. contact info, templates for mailing to local politicians)

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