Built by Exygy using Bloom Housing, the new City of San Jose Affordable Housing portal makes affordable housing opportunities and resources more easily accessible, relevant, and enabled the city to implement future housing preferences - such as prioritizing residents experiencing displacement.
The City of San Jose is the tenth largest city in the United States based on population and 51% of that population is rent burdened according to the Housing Readiness Report. This U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development statistic means that more than 30% of an individual's income goes toward housing. Though the Bay Area has historically been one of the most diverse regions in the country, the Black and Native American populations have been steadily declining because of displacement. San Jose is no exception and as such, the mayor's office sought to prioritize those who have been previously displaced from affordable housing. They also looked for a way to streamline and update the housing application process altogether. As housing preferences, needs, and policies change, the process of changing a bureaucratic and paper-based application is arduous, time-consuming, and can’t respond fast enough to the needs of the community, especially low-income renters looking for affordable housing. They brought in Exygy’s Bloom Housing platform to address both needs in tandem.
One of the most daunting issues facing affordable housing seekers is the availability of information about rental properties. While San Jose had a website that displayed information about locations of the rental properties, it provided little utility in finding out helpful information about the details of the rentals themselves.
The previous system made the process of searching for housing difficult, confusing, and frustrating for those urgently seeking housing. Contact details were often inaccurate or completely missing, every unit had to be contacted individually, and little to no information was often provided about eligibility. For those caught in the housing crisis, the map didn’t provide any support in their crucial and time-sensitive search to find housing. There needed to be a better way.
The city had affordable housing in place, what they needed was an updated system that had accurate and relevant information such as availability, telephone numbers, and a link to an online housing application. Additionally, by creating a new affordable housing portal, they could easily create priority for displaced residents and lay the groundwork for making similar changes in the future much easier.
Our goal with Bloom Housing has always been to create a platform that can be scaled across jurisdictions to increase affordable housing access to as many Bay Area residents as possible. Having already implemented Bloom Housing in other cities across the Bay Area, our short and replicable common application was already widely accepted. This made the final stakeholder approvals quick and seamless. In our initial testing, it took 9 months for the stakeholders to agree to the common application but by the time we approached stakeholders in San Jose all we needed was a short meeting to reach stakeholders consensus. With this Bay Area-wide adoption, we are able to serve more people with greater ease and speed.
Bloom Housing’s common application is now used in more than half of the Bay Area jurisdictions.
With our Agile-based approach, we were able to quickly build and improve San Jose’s housing portal. One such improvement was a security update. At the heart of Silicon Valley, we needed to conduct a thorough security analysis. We partnered with the city's security team and not only elevated the San Jose project’s security but all of the Bloom Housing Jurisdictions. Next we added listings and then systematically released features such as the common application, and digital partner portfolios. Our team checked in on a monthly basis with the Steering Committee to ensure they were still mission aligned. Additionally, we also worked closely with the marketing team to increase the visibility of available units.
With every iteration of our Bloom Housing portal we become increasingly efficient at adapting our original open-source platform to the unique needs of the jurisdictions and those they serve. With Bloom Housing San Jose, we were able to not only provide clear and helpful information for those seeking rentals but also build in future needs of the city like the potential for the mayor’s new prioritization of people already displaced from San Jose.
With each new Bloom Housing project, we are continually honing our skills to fight the housing crisis. As a result of our Bloom Housing, residents in San Jose - and those who have been displaced or want to move to San Jose to be closer to family or work - now have access to all the relevant resources, an easy to use web-based portal, and a streamlined common application to help them find housing in the city of San Jose.