Affordable and humane housing is one of the most prominent problems in America’s metropolises. While all manner of task forces and social activists continue to attack it, no one group has been universally successful at tackling it. However, a community of like-minded coders in New York City has banded together to at least to make life a little better, the New York Times reports.
These do-gooders informally identify as the Housing Data Coalition and consist of a variety of principled hacktivists who are building easy-to-use, intuitive tools that employ data as a weapon to combat illicit and unethical housing practices in a city that houses nearly 9 million people. They call their tools “civic technology” and employ their skills in service of the people, not the landlords who prey on vulnerable populations.
There’s Dan Kass, who moved to New York City in 2013 and found his apartment in Crown Heights not only had been rented illegally, but was nearly heatless and infested with vermin. He soon co-founded, along with friends Ashley Treni and George Clement, a nonprofit technology startup called JustFix.nyc, which launched apps that help tenants track disputes with landlords and navigate housing court, among others. The dashboard interface on the apps makes it easier for community organizers and legal aid attorneys to track problems like leaks, mold or rodent infestations.