Online tool to help find better Section 8 housing wins contestPosted: April 30, 2014 A Connecticut civil rights organization won an innovation contest on Tuesday for developing a tool to help low-income residents move to better neighborhoods. The Open Communities Alliance won a “hackathon” competition at a conference on economic inequality, hosted by the online news source the Connecticut Mirror. The tool helps counselors who work with people seeking government-subsidized Section 8 housing. So-called “mobility counselors” in Waterbury, Hartford and New Haven advise people on where to find suitable homes. Erin Boggs is the Executive Director of Open Communities Alliance.
“What we did today was we tried to create a mapping tool, where we would have a system where the clients and the counselors could sit together, enter the address and get information about neighborhood assets,” said Boggs.
Those neighborhood assets include things like schools and grocery stores, and the tool also has community information like unemployment rates and crime statistics. Boggs says that kind of information can help families move to communities where they can be more successful. She says currently, nearly 80 percent of Section 8 vouchers are disproportionately used in high poverty areas.
For now, the tool focuses on the Hartford area. An award of $1,000 in Tuesday’s contest will help them extend it to cover the entire state.