Inspiration and Ambition --- How big picture was the project?
Affordable Housing is a hot topic now in Houston. Mayor Turner and council members are responding to the Houston Chronicle's Lost Money recent investigation of how Houston's low-income housing fund is struggling to meet its mission, where Houston has collected $130 million in local taxes over the last decade to help provide affordable housing for low-income families, but has little to show for it. There is $46 million discretionary funds available for new projects.
The first step of Mayor Turner's 6-point plan is working with the Houston Apartment Association and others to open up more housing. Although the city used its affordable housing fund to subsidize the construction, purchase or rental of more than 2,000 homes over the last decade, fewer than a quarter of them remain tied to city rules for housing subsidies.
What it does / Progress
Our app Focuses on Results:
For Planners and Administrators -Transparency and accountability -Leveraging community-based change control and data integrity
HousingChoiceHouston helps the city provide the tracking, accountability, and transparency to make sure, as McCasland said, "an affordable home is not something that you need to hit the lottery for." For many projects, city housing officials cannot say how many families were helped or whether their homes still qualify as affordable for low-income residents.
HousingChoiceHouston enables a coherent affordable housing strategy that connects spending to outcomes with Key Performance indicators to quantify impact: Number, % change in: -Available housing units in high opportunity areas -Average wait time -Families on 4 waitlists --**Reduced admin costs
For Voucher Applicants Greater access to affordable housing A path to greater self-determination and better quality of life Leveraging affordable housing as a platform for family empowerment
For PropertyOwners Smoother placements of voucher recipients Scorecard for affordable housing to their revenue and compliance goals
For Economy Creating commerce and better quality of life Greater contributions from more productive and empowered citizens Greater social capital, property utilization, and community collaboration.
Projected impact. How useful will the project be? How much is it informed by experts? Of the 2,425 housing authorities across the country which offer the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program on (4 different lists), Houston has over 43,000 residents waiting for affordable housing placement.
How we built it
Since there is no reliable list of affordable housing that exists in any form that we could find, we created our dataset from local properties that meets HUD compliance in key areas with the idea that it may be replaced with actual data as it becomes used by homeowners, administrators, and voucher recipients.
Creativity-Challenges we ran into
Our project required specialized knowledge of the process where we might have benefited from subject matter experts that have been a part of previous hackathons. Without such this time, we connected early on with Esmerelda, a project manager with 15 years of subject matter expertise working for HUD in Houston and Colorado to help scope our project objectives.
Working with and leveraging strengths of a diverse team of 16 people presented project management challenges so we use Slack to manage our process work flow.
Accomplishments that we are proud of
We are modern-day Nehemiah's masterminding, developing, learning from a team of 16 to build something wonderful that restores our communities using affordable housing as a platform.
What we learned
We learned from research how powerfully our app, HousingChoiceHouston, will impact affordable housing access and the overall economy. This helped us to target how our app will make a big impact based on the minimum viable product we were able to complete for this hackathon and what our version updates may include.
References: A CHRONICLE INVESTIGATION: LOST MONEY- Officials haven't kept close tabs on Houston's low-income housing fund, which is struggling to meet its mission by Rebecca Elliott and Mike Morris http://houstonchronicle.com/lostmoney
Mayor outlines reforms in response to Chronicle 'Lost Money' investigation By Rebecca Elliott Updated 10:53 am, Wednesday, May 17, 2017 http://chron.com/news/politics/houston/article/Mayor-outlines-reforms-in-response-to-Chronicle-11152744.php
Mayor Turner announced a 6-step approach to tackling the homeless situation in Houston today. submitted March 2017 by Kabulamongoni http://reddit.com/r/houston/comments/5x4twb/mayor_turner_announced_a_6step_approach_to
Why (and How) Localities Should Say Yes to Housing September 28, 2016 by Maya Brennan http://HowHousingMatters.org/articles/localities-say-yes-housing
We also found the each of us were able to overcome many of our individual challenges by engaging one another to mastermind what was needed to solve our problems. We also leveraged insight from those working on other teams to resolve anomalies in our project.
What's next for HousingChoiceHouston
We intend to leverage key stakeholders on the HousingChoiceHouston Project:
Andy Teas, CAE, Vice President, Public Affairs 713.595.0303 281.582.1520 ATeas@HAAOnline.org
Monitors government actions in Houston, Harris County and surrounding cities and districts, as well as the state and federal levels. Keeps members up-to-date on government action - pro and con - and works with government policymakers to see that the needs of the apartment industry are considered.
David Kim Deputy Assistant Director City of Houston Housing and Community Development Executive Director of Urban Land Institute Houston
Tom McCasland, Director City of Houston Housing and Community Development Department 601 Sawyer #400 Houston Texas 77007 832.394.6200 firstname.lastname@example.org
Sylvester Turner, Mayor of Houston
Our next natural step of outlining to Houston Housing Authority and key working partners is consequential to begin capturing affordable housing in targeted TIRZ zones using our HousingChoiceHouston application as a project to drive defined objectives of all stakeholders:
-Increasing # of available housing units in high opportunity areas -Reducing average wait time for placement -Reducing families on 4 waitlists --**Administrative cost reduction
Source: City of Houston data 2013
We intend to: -use our fair city as a prototype for how HousingChoiceLA... NY... Chicago... and pilot cities and communities all across the nation may address access to affordable housing using the application we created. -incorporate multilevel feedback ques that may give housing prioritization based on policy protocols and objectives developed with the stakeholders our project engages, Houston Housing Authority, Houston Apartment Association, property owners, voucher applicants, other working partners, and the community at-large. -use key dates as progress benchmarks with working partners: --National Housing Day of Action, Sat 18th Nov, 2017 --National Fair Housing Month, April 2018 --National Apartment Housing Day, April 2018