Saturday, July 13, 2024

New Affordable Housing Portal Launches for Bay Area

Bay Area Housing Finance Authority, Google.org unveil new regional hub making it easier to find
housing across the Bay Area’s nine counties

SAN FRANCISCO, June 29, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The Bay Area Housing Finance Authority (BAHFA) today launched the Doorway Housing Portal, a hub to easily find affordable housing in the Bay Area. The first-of-its-kind regional online portal was developed with pro bono support from Google.org Fellows, a team that includes Google researchers, designers, product managers and software engineers.

The need for affordable housing is ever growing, and it’s estimated that the Bay Area would need 180,000 more affordable homes by 2031 to meet demand. This highlights the significant need to build an efficient platform to connect housing seekers and available units across the region – particularly since many Bay Area households are multi-jurisdictional.

“The launch of the Doorway housing portal is an important step toward relieving the Bay Area’s chronic housing affordability crisis,” shared BAHFA Chair and Napa County Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza. “The combination of availability and accessibility unlocks more opportunity for more people. We appreciate both the technical know-how Google.org brought to this project and its long-term commitment to helping us meet some of the Bay Area’s other housing challenges. There’s a lot more work we can do together.”

“In many ways, the Doorway portal is a model for partnerships between the public and tech sectors,” said Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin, who also serves as president of the Association of Bay Area Governments’ (ABAG) Executive Board. “By making the search for affordable housing easier, faster, more convenient and more consistent – real people can open the door to real opportunities and safer, more secure and less stressful lives.”

“As work continues at every level of government and in the private sector to increase affordable housing options in the Bay Area, families and individuals need to be informed about resources and opportunities. That’s why I welcome this effort by the Bay Area Housing Finance Authority and Google.org to help remove barriers for people searching for homes,” said Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (CA-18).

At launch, the Doorway Housing Portal will centralize housing listings across the Bay Area and enable housing seekers to use filters and a map-based interface to search for affordable housing. Individuals will also have access to helpful content to guide them through the process of finding and applying for affordable housing. The portal is accessible via desktop and mobile in five languages: English, Traditional Chinese, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Tagalog. 

Developers and property managers are encouraged to use the portal to upload their listings, increasing the visibility and reach of the rental units while also helping increase the number of listings for housing seekers.

“Today’s Doorway Housing Portal launch culminates so many years of dedicated, passionate work by so many people. We are grateful to the Google.org Fellows, to our city and county partners, and to our legislative leaders for providing the resources necessary to create this tremendous tool that changes the way Bay Area residents search for affordable housing,” said Kate Hartley, BAHFA’s Director. 

While the six-month Google.org Fellowship ends with the launch of the portal, Google.org announced that it will provide a $2.5 million grant to fund continued management of the portal, as well as in-kind services that will go toward future outreach initiatives. 

“At Google, we know our responsibility to help starts at home, and that means being a good neighbor in the place where it all began over 20 years ago – the San Francisco Bay Area,” said Kent Walker, Google’s President of Global Affairs. “Announcements like today’s launch of the Doorway Housing Portal are a testament to public-private collaboration and a willingness on the part of our local leaders to partner on innovative solutions. We’re grateful for this opportunity, BAHFA, and we’re grateful for our federal, state and local elected leaders who have been advocating for the need to build more housing and allocate additional resources to support our unhoused community throughout the Bay Area.”

The launch of the Doorway Housing Portal builds on the success of the DAHLIA San Francisco Housing Portal, which was launched in 2016 by the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, and was developed with support from Google.org Fellows, the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation and Exygy, a local B Corp and Digital Consultancy.

Exygy also helped develop the Doorway Housing Portal with BAHFA and Google.org Fellows, and will work with BAHFA staff to manage the portal moving forward. The portal is built on Bloom Housing, an open-source software project that is being developed by Exygy with governments across the country.

“As an open-source platform, Bloom Housing’s role in increasing access to affordable housing is a great example of how governments leverage human-centered design and innovative technology to improve lives. The Doorway collaboration is a powerful demonstration of regional government collaboration and public-private partnership in action,” said Zach Berke, Founder and CEO at Exygy. “With Google.org’s support of Bloom Housing and Doorway, Exygy continues to build our mutual commitment to innovate and improve access to critical government services.”

A subsequent release of the Doorway Housing Portal is planned for the spring of 2024. Housing seekers will be able to immediately determine their eligibility for various types of affordable housing units and apply for multiple listings directly in the portal – reducing the barriers of complexity with a common application, which will take less than 10 minutes.

Google.org’s Doorway Housing Portal funding and the pro bono support is part of Google’s Bay Area housing commitment that includes $50 million in Google.org grants to nonprofits focused on homelessness. Today, Google shared an update on the progress it’s made toward that commitment:

  • Google is continuing to support the creation or preservation of 20,000 homes, and as of today, resources and investments have been put in place to enable more than 80% of that goal. 
    • More than $133 million of the $250 million affordable housing investment fund has been allocated for more than 3,800 units across 29 affordable housing projects, including almost 2,000 units under construction and more than 100 units in operation. This is in addition to more than 2,000 modular homes already underway or completed. 
    • Google’s work with local elected officials and residents to rezone $750 million worth of its land has paved the way for up to 12,900 units to be built in Mountain View and San José as part of the mixed-use development plans. This includes up to 7,000 units entitled within the North Bayshore Master Plan, which the City of Mountain View unanimously voted to approve earlier this month.
  • With the new grant for the Doorway Housing Portal, Google.org has granted more than $36 million of its $50 million commitment to help Bay Area organizations focused on homelessness. This funding has helped provide services to more than 106,000 people, house 11,600 individuals and launch cash transfer pilots.

The Bay Area Housing Finance Authority (BAHFA) is the state’s first regional housing finance authority, established in 2019 by the California legislature to address the Bay Area’s chronic housing challenges. It works closely with MTC and the Association of Bay Area Governments to blend housing, transportation, and good governance solutions for a more vibrant and sustainable Bay Area.

Google.org, Google’s philanthropy, brings the best of Google to help solve some of humanity’s biggest challenges combining funding, innovation, and technical expertise to support underserved communities and provide opportunity for everyone. We engage nonprofits and social enterprises who make a significant impact on the communities they represent, and whose work has the potential to produce meaningful change. We want a better world, faster — and we believe in leveraging technology and applying scalable data-driven innovation to move the needle.

SOURCE Metropolitan Transportation Commission; Association of Bay Area Governments

Originally published at https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-affordable-housing-portal-launches-for-bay-area-301867678.html

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