Housing Connector, Zillow partner on new tool to help more people access stable housing

By: Editorial Staff Posted: 02/24/2020

Incubated by the Chamber, Housing Connector works with landlords to lower barriers to housing for people experiencing homelessness

This month, Housing Connector, a program of the Chamber, and Zillow launched a new search tool that will help case managers quickly and easily find housing options for people exiting homelessness. 

This is a game changer - as Housing Wire reported, it makes it more efficient for participating landlords to upload their inventory, and makes it simpler for case managers to identify potential housing for their clients. Thank you to Chamber board member Racquel Russell and her team at Zillow for dedicating lots of time, energy, and resources to create this new tool, which is a great example of a “triple-threat” partnership – private/public/non-profit.

Watch this short video to find out more.

A Partnership Building Connections and Opening Doors 

In 2018, King County and the City of Seattle approached the Chamber to take over a County program that connected landlords with vacant units to people experiencing homelessness. The idea was sound, but the program was struggling to attract landlords to participate and consequently wasn’t housing many people.

The Chamber agreed to incubate a redesigned, business-facing version of the program – Housing Connector.

The first thing we did was hire a fantastic executive director, Shkelqim Kelmendi, who has hired fantastic staff people, Angela Compton, Juanita Unger, and Yulia Savelyeva. Their team has taken that initial good idea and, through the alchemy of hustle, listening, patience, and smarts, turned it into a great idea.

The new program officially launched last fall and since then, they have housed over 470 people. And that’s just the start.

How Housing Connector Works 

By offering incentives to landlords to reduce or eliminate barriers to housing, like low credit scores or eviction history, Housing Connector reduces uncertainty and makes it easy to rent to local residents in need of housing. By giving new tools to case managers, Zillow's tool creates capacity in our social services ecosystem. And most importantly, by helping those most in need, they are giving people hope.

Housing Connector’s early success demonstrates how members of the business community can use their expertise and their core operations to make a direct, practical difference in our region’s housing and homelessness issues. Through their participation, landlords and property managers are opening up more housing and have fewer units sitting vacant. Early on, Racquel and Zillow saw the potential of Housing Connector and saw how they could apply Zillow’s technical capacity to increase its impact.

What's Next? 

This is an important muscle for the whole business community to flex. We hope that Housing Connector’s success sparks more thinking about how employers can use their daily operations and expertise – what they do best – to make positive progress on the Chamber’s mission to build an equitable and inclusive regional economy.