Location Based, Subsidized Housing Smartphone/Web App
I propose a new smartphone app focused on location based, subsidized housing searches.
HUD has an app for HUD Homes but it is limited in scope. HUD needs a complete overhaul of how it approaches IT and how it delivers information to the public.
We have publicly available information from the National Housing Preservation Database listing federally subsidized housing units. We can geocode those locations to render as points on a map. A user can filter their search by radius from current location, whether the unit accepts Section 8, does a PHA have an open waiting list...the possibilities are endless. The app can link to the local PHA/HRA of a user, can provide typical housing information that each field office receives calls on a regular basis, and should provide contact information to the nearest PHA/HRA (phone number, address, URL).
In addition to the new subsidized housing app, a similar location based, interactive subsidized housing map should be placed on the front page of each public field office website.
Finally, this project will truly give HUD the WOW factor in terms of technology that is has been lacking in the past. This idea also covers Goal 5 of the HUD Strategic Plan: Transform the Way HUD Does Business. More Americans are getting their daily news and information from smartphones and web-based searches yet HUD is content with mailing thick paper copies of public housing lists.
Let's create a 21st century product and get this smartphone app created.
This is a great idea! We are looking into this to find ways to move forward! Thanks for posting and using HUD Ideas in Action!
Dustin Hogenson commented
There is research out there which shows that lower income people are a very fast growing demographic of smart phone users, so such an app would go a ways in reaching out to them.
Reach the Homeless challenge: http://reachthehomeless.challenge.gov/submissions
Shaun Donovan and Ann Oliva (Assistant Secretary [acting] for Special Needs Director, Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs for HUD) are judges for the Reach the Homeless challenge.
I want to see a full-fledged HUD app, along the lines of these two submissions, available not only for the general public but also for professionals in our industry. The most often requested HUD information by housing professionals and the general public can be in one app instead of having to surf around our website to various locations. There are many professional uses for this app idea in the field across our country.
"A homeless person and a smartphone may seem an unlikely combination, but mobile devices are far from being a tool for recreation or a status symbol. Mobile access can enable them to come out of the shadows, drawing attention to their plight and securing valuable services.
When it comes to making difficult economic choices, cell phones are the last refuge, likely because mobile phones are relatively easy to get, especially when compared to a landline, car, house or job. And connections enabled by mobile devices can give disenfranchised populations a sense of community while they work to rebuild.
A cell phone offers a cheap way to communicate, and even a very basic Internet access can connect them to a wealth of information and resources. On a larger scale, a mobile device is a tether between a homeless person and the larger fabric of society, keeping them from falling into the pale and completely in the margins.
Providing homeless people with the most influential and effective resources, contacts, and opportunities could aid traditional outreach methods, making them more effective and affordable.
Down the road, the trend could transform the delivery of services to distressed populations, creating "virtual case management," systems or new platforms to interact. Online tools could ease how workers and those needing services communicate by eliminating the challenges of face-to-face meetings or missed written communications. Also, an email blast may prove more effective in getting the word out about available resources and seminars.
As state budgets are burdened beyond capacity and neighborhood and satellite service centers close, mobile may pave new outreach connections. Mobile devices beyond phones, like an iPod Touch, may allow homeless populations to stay in constant contact with social service providers, streamlining the process for both parties.
The digital transfer of forms, requests, bulletin-boards, rules, and other communications could save hours of legwork and cut much of the bureaucratic red tape, while at the same time help the homeless community pool together to move beyond their current situation."
"New data from Nielsen released this morning takes a look at the typical U.S. smartphone user, specifically their age and income, as well as the penetration of smartphones into various demographic groups. Data like this can help developers, publishers and advertisers better understand who owns a smartphone, but it can also help to determine if the devices are successfully penetrating the low-end income brackets thanks to lower price points.
The answer to that latter question is yes: even those making less than $15,000 per year are likely to have a smartphone – but only if they’re young. Over half (56%) of this income bracket are smartphone owners, when aged 18-24. In the 25-34 age group, 43% of those at this income level are making room for a smartphone in their limited budgets. In the more pragmatic 35-44 age group, 31% of those making under $15,000 own a smartphone.
While these mobile users don’t necessarily live below the poverty threshold (it’s unclear if they are single, married, supporting families, etc.), they’re not far off. In 2011, a single person making $10,890 or less was living in poverty, for example. Just increase that by a few thousand annually, and all of a sudden, they’re smartphone owners."
"The rise of mobile is changing the story. Groups that have traditionally been on the other side
of the digital divide in basic internet access are using wireless connections to go online. Among
smartphone owners, young adults, minorities, those with no college experience, and those with
lower household income levels are more likely than other groups to say that their phone is their
main source of internet access."
"Local news is going mobile. Nearly half of all American adults (47%) report that they get at least some local news and information on their cellphone or tablet computer.
The information they seek out on mobile platforms is practical and real time: 42% of mobile device owners report getting weather updates and 37% get material about restaurants or other local businesses on their phones or tablets."