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Case Studies / HousingLink

Using Empathy to Bring People Home

The Housing Hub App displayed on a laptop

HousingLink set out to turn the overwhelming system of affordable housing wait lists into a simplified, transparent hub. We made empathy the platform’s biggest feature, using a clear, user-friendly approach to support people in urgent need.

The Project-Based Section 8 subsidized housing wait list process is overwhelming, complicated, inefficient, and time-consuming for everyone involved. But no one more so than renters. That’s why HousingLink, a nonprofit affordable housing resource, came to Software for Good with a big idea: Housing Hub, a centralized wait list platform for renters and property managers that would offer a simplified and more transparent solution. Revolutionary, really.

While the HousingLink team had completed extensive research and planning, including rough wireframes of the platform, they wanted us to validate their findings and provide strategic recommendations for the platform and overall user experience.

In the initial phase of work, the Software for Good team completed a series of in-depth interviews with property managers, renters, case managers, social workers, and government agencies. From this, we came back to HousingLink with distilled feedback, a series of strategic recommendations, and five user personas. Our strongest suggestion? Make empathy the platform’s biggest feature, and keep the situations, motivations, and challenges of those five personas front of mind as we move into development.

With user input fresh in our minds, we began developing Housing Hub — a mobile-first version for renters, and a desktop version for property managers. The renter application walks users through the process of searching for and applying to open Project-Based Section 8 wait lists. Minimal copy, clear calls to action, and visual cues instill confidence and make it user-friendly for individuals who are in stressful situations. For property managers, the tool offers unique features and a user-friendly dashboard where they can create, view, and manage wait lists and easily communicate with renters.

Housing Hub is currently rolling out to property managers, and has the potential to transform the affordable housing wait list process for people in need of a place to live.

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