New Zillow Tool Helps Connect the Homeless With Affordable Housing

February 13, 2020
Photo: Shutterstock

Real estate platform Zillow just unveiled a new effort to help people transitioning out of homelessness find a place to live.

On Thursday, the Seattle-based company launched a search tool that connects people with affordable housing via a network of nonprofit organizations and landlords. The tool was made possible through a partnership between Zillow, local nonprofit Housing Connector and the Seattle Office of Housing and was originally an idea spun out of Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan’s Innovation Advisory Council.

Through Zillow’s tool, Housing Connector’s partner landlords can post listings for available homes. The listings are meant to be affordable, and are more lenient on certain tenant requirements — like history of evictions — to ensure people in need can qualify.

The tool is intended for nonprofits working on behalf of homeless and in-need tenants. Although it’s not available to the broader public, 35 landlords and 42 nonprofit service providers are active on the platform as of launch.

“I am incredibly proud of the work that Zillow and the Housing Connector have done to make it easier for people experiencing homelessness to find affordable housing and for affordable housing providers to connect with those in need,” Durkan said in a statement. “Zillow, Housing Connector and the Seattle Office of Housing have shown that, by working together, we can find truly innovative solutions to some of our region’s most pressing challenges.”

Seattle is a major hub for some of the largest tech companies. While this brings high wages to some, it can also drive up rents and lead to an increase in homelessness.

As a real estate platform, Zillow is in a good position to help address the city’s homelessness problem, but other tech companies are doing their part too. For example, Amazon is building a homeless shelter in its Seattle headquarters and Microsoft is investing half a billion dollars into affordable housing.

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