Inspiration

Approximately 40% of the people in California has an income less than $50k.They are insecure because they don't have any stability in life. They keep hopping from one rented house to another as the rent increases or due to other unprecedented reasons. It not only pains when one gets uprooted from his/her place but also makes them worried about the stable future of their wives or children.

As per Government rules, every builder must provide 4-5% of the houses in below market price. City of Santa Clara in association with Housing Trust Silicon Valley has started a program called BMP (Below Market Purchase) Program. This program helps those needy people to get a shelter of their own.

However, the major problems faced by the Housing Trust Silicon Valley are

  • the website is very disorganized,
  • many processes (including pre-qualification) are manual and thus takes huge turn-around time
    • the website dumps huge amount of raw data on the user and are clueless about the whole process.

Thus, we wanted to revamp the whole website in order to attract needy people, make the whole process stream-lined and lucid. This would attract needy people and thus increase the impact of this cause manifold.

What it does

The website we designed has made the below value-additions:

  • It shifts from document based illustration to graphics (images/videos) based illustration, thus making the education process more interesting
  • It automates the whole pre-eligibility check process and reduces the turn-around time from 1 week to 2 mins.
  • It provides an online appointment booking system for workshops, homebuyer education class, application submission etc.
  • It provides a lucid admin panel for better manageability
  • It introduces and maintains a unique Application ID for providing more attention on case-to-case basis
  • It provides a Cloud based (salesforce.com/heroku/mlab) and open-source solution to provide a platform that is easily scalable as and when the program grows.
  • Importantly, it integrates all modern UX technologies to increase the user experience and this attract more people to apply for the program.

How we built it

  • UX: We used Google Material Design to come up with a simple but very effective UX designs
  • UI: We used HTML5 and angularjs to increase the richness of the UI
  • Service Layer: We used node.js to effectively communicate between the UI and the back-end
  • Database: We used cloud based database (mlab) free version to have a well-managed version of mongo dB
  • Web-server: We used highly scalable and reliable platform called Heroku (salesforce.com) to host the web App.
  • Continuous Integration: CI is achieved by connecting github repository and heroku. Automatic deploy ensures dynamic deployment as soon as any new code is pushed into the github.

Challenges we ran into

  • Integrating google calendar and appointment booking system
  • Integrating the cloud platforms heroku and mlab. Exploring the different API access, authentication keys etc. were few challenges that we faced.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

  • We learnt the whole BMPP process within a small amount of time
  • We could put ourselves into the shoes of the customer and unearth many unknown problems.
  • We went a step ahead and forecasted the future problems Housing Trust could face. And we delivered solutions as value-additions.
  • We could design and deliver most of the features using open-source and free services.
  • We have introduced an algorithm into the whole eligibility check process and reduced the turn-around time by 85%
  • Most importantly: great design thinking, asking right questions to the customer and pro-active value-additions by every member of the team.

What we learned

  • Great team-work
  • Great use of open-source technologies
  • end-to-end website design (MEAN Stack)
  • Design Thinking

What's next for htapp

  • Enrich the admin panel to ensure better manageability
  • cost comparison between present and proposed solutions and subsequently increase the cost-effectiveness
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