Zillow launches tool to help Seattleites exiting homelessness find affordable housing

Zillow’s affordable housing tool.

Zillow Group launched a new tool Thursday to help people experiencing homelessness in Seattle connect with affordable housing options. The tool is hosted on Zillow’s website and allows landlords with affordable units and caseworkers seeking housing for their clients to connect in one place.

Local non-profit Housing Connector and other homeless service providers can browse availability across locations, rather than the traditional process of searching property-by-property. Landlords that use Housing Connector have relaxed criteria that can make it difficult for people to secure housing, like a history of evictions or criminal offenses.

There are 35 landlords and 42 nonprofits using the platform as of Wednesday, with additional partners expected to join, Zillow said.

Housing Connector is the main nonprofit utilizing Zillow’s new tool. The organization launched last year to help private property owners rent homes to people exiting homelessness. The Zillow tool launching today provides the technology to facilitate those connections more efficiently. Housing Connector mitigates risks for landlords who agree to rent to their clients, including sometimes covering move-in fees and other costs.

The tool is not public-facing, so individuals searching for housing won’t find it on Zillow’s website. But landlords and caseworkers who sign up for the program are able to access it on behalf of clients.

Zillow says its hopeful other communities could find a use for the affordability tool but the company doesn’t have plans to scale beyond the Seattle region at this time.

The tool was born out of Durkan’s Innovation Advisory Council, a coalition of technologists and government officials tasked with solving city problems using technology.

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