Google.org Providing Pro Bono Technical Support to Create New Web Portal
The Bay Area Housing Finance Authority (BAHFA) is beginning a project to develop and implement the Doorway Housing Portal, an online portal that will enable residents to search for affordable housing anywhere in the nine-county Bay Area and complete an application in less than 10 minutes.
Scheduled to launch in early 2024, the Doorway Housing Portal will serve as a one-stop shop for housing seekers. The Doorway Housing Portal will allow prospective renters to immediately determine their eligibility for all kinds of affordable housing units, apply for multiple listings at the same time and receive up-to-the-minute information on waitlists, lotteries and placement, all while protecting personal data throughout the process. The portal also will simplify the lease-up process for developers and property managers, and provide important data about the demand for affordable housing, which will help create more housing resources.
A team of Google.org Fellows — Google researchers, designers, product managers, software engineers and other Google employees — will provide pro bono technical support for the project.
“Affordable housing needs to be funded and it needs to be accessible,” said U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who represents California’s 18th Congressional District. “That’s why I welcome this new effort by the Bay Area Housing Finance Authority and Google.org to help provide needed information about affordable housing options in our community.”
“The collaboration between Google.org and BAHFA is precisely the kind of public-private teamwork we need to finally start solving the Bay Area’s longstanding housing affordability problems,” commented state Assembly Budget Committee Chair Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), whose support for a $20 million earmark in the 2021 state budget was pivotal in kickstarting BAHFA’s operations. “By leveraging Google.org’s technical expertise with the open-source DAHLIA portal already being used in San Francisco, BAHFA is building a tool that can be used not only by residents but also by developers and property managers throughout the Bay Area and then scaled up for use all around the country.”
“Searching for an affordable home in the Bay Area is so much harder and more time-consuming than it should be,” noted Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, who chairs the Assembly Housing Committee. “There’s usually a lot of paperwork when people try to apply for affordable housing and the process is often different from property to property, with confusing eligibility rules and lack of clarity about why a person did or didn’t get approved. Doorway aims to eliminate these unnecessary obstacles that families face just trying to locate an affordable place to live and it’s well overdue. I’m excited that BAHFA is partnering with tech to develop a regional solution that will benefit residents across the whole Bay Area.”
As part of Google’s $1 billion Bay Area housing commitment, Google.org is providing pro bono support to select local nonprofits. The Doorway Housing Portal continues this effort and builds on the success of a past Civic Fellowship with the City of San Francisco, where a team of Google employees supported the city to research and design what is now DAHLIA. DAHLIA was developed in partnership with the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation and Exygy, a San Francisco-based Certified B Corporation that also will develop the Doorway Housing Portal with BAHFA and Google.org.
The Doorway Housing Portal will be built on Bloom Housing, an open-source software project being developed with governments across the country.
"Open-source platforms like Bloom Housing facilitate collaboration between governments to develop world-class, human-centered software that serves our most underserved communities. Bloom Housing's role in increasing access to affordable housing is a great example of ways design and technology can help improve lives," said Zach Berke, founder and managing partner at Exygy.
Established by the state Legislature in 2019, BAHFA is the first regional housing finance authority in California. BAHFA is governed by the same board members as the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), with some of its policies also overseen by the Executive Board of the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG).
Google.org is Google’s philanthropy arm, bringing 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. Google.org engages nonprofits and social enterprises who make a significant impact on the communities they represent, and whose work has the potential to produce meaningful change. Google.org wants a better world, faster — and believes in leveraging technology and applying scalable, data-driven innovation to move the needle.