Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and King County Executive Dow Constantine on Thursday announced Zillow’s new search, which is aimed at helping connect local nonprofits and their clients grappling with homelessness with owners of affordable vacant rental units.
Developed by Zillow in collaboration with Mayor Durkan’s Innovation Advisory Council, the Seattle Office of Housing, Housing Connector and its service providers and property owners, the new search tool will allow case managers searching for housing to set a filter on rental searches to include available homes that accept Housing Connector services. Property owners that utilize Housing Connector relax or sometimes wave criteria that typically can serve as barriers to individuals trying to obtain housing, like a record of past criminal offenses or evictions.
Historically, case managers had to conduct searches for clients experiencing homelessness property-by-property, no doubt a time-consuming task. With the new Zillow tool, a quick filtered search will create results in real time for Housing Connector properties that can easily be viewed geographically by location. At present, 35 landlords and 42 nonprofit service providers in Seattle and King County are enabled to use the new tool, according to Zillow.
“Our community desperately needs more affordable housing,” Housing Connect Executive Director of Housing Shkelqim Kelmendi said in a statement. “And while we’re working to build that housing, individuals experiencing homelessness can’t wait; they need a home today. Together with Zillow, we are thrilled to launch this new search tool to scale our impact and streamline how individuals access housing with reduced screening criteria, ultimately decreasing the time a unit sits vacant and the number of days a family must experience homelessness.”
Zillow’s new tool is not public-facing, however, so individuals who search on Zillow will not have access to this filter. Individual caseworkers and landlords who register for the program, though, will be able to search with the tool on behalf of their clients.
At this time, Zillow does not have plans to extend the search tool to other regions outside of Seattle, the company told GeekWire.