Local housing placement preferences allow cities and counties to prioritize the placement of particular populations over the general population to affordable housing opportunities. Preferences are typically implemented as a requirement from a particular funding source. For example, a city may require an applicant to select a location-based preference for living or working locally in the community when they contribute local funding to an affordable housing opportunity. Or a funding source from a veterans fund may require a U.S. military veterans’ housing preference.
The most common housing preferences are typically local residential (“live”) or local employment (“work”), but others may prioritize previously displaced residents, first responders, or teachers. Bloom Housing can implement any potential preference that a jurisdiction is interested in implementing, given the availability of the data on which the preference is based. The system is able to guide the applicant through the process of qualifying for the preference to ensure they are able to utilize a preference if they qualify for it. For example, Bloom Housing can recognize that an applicant may qualify for a “live” preference if their home address is located in the local jurisdiction. This allows the system to “nudge” an applicant to complete their application more fully and accurately. In San Francisco, data was used to improve the claim rates for housing preferences — increasing from 40% to 88%.
For some preferences that would otherwise be difficult to implement, Bloom Housing ensures a more accurate housing preference experience by simplifying the overall preference process. This includes confirming the accuracy of an address and managing the application process. One such example is a displacement preference for individuals and families displaced from the jurisdiction due to an Ellis Act eviction, natural disaster, or neighborhood preference that prioritizes individuals or families currently residing in particular neighborhoods.
Bloom Housing is able to implement layers of housing preferences from various overlapping funding sources that may require multiple preferences. One example is a funding source that has a city-based housing preferences while another funding for the same housing development may ask for a county-based housing preference.
Since housing preferences typically require asking specific questions or geo-locating addresses to verify preference eligibility, many preferences are difficult to implement with only a paper application process. A digital application process can help determine if an address is located within a particular neighborhood or ensure an applicant is actively aware of their eligibility for a preference before being allowed to move forward with an application.
Although Bloom Housing is able to simplify the overall housing preference experience digitally, the process is based upon a paper common application that stakeholders — including jurisdictions, housing counselors, and housing developers — have all agreed upon as the universal pre-application to a waitlist or lottery.
For more information on how Bloom Housing supports jurisdictions in moving their affordable housing application process online, check out Digitizing Government Services, a candid discussion and product demo with the City of San Francisco’s Office of Civic Innovation.
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