This fall semester, the Cyberlaw Clinic provided legal support for the initiative to create what has been dubbed the “Housing Navigator” — an online one-stop shop that will allow Massachusetts residents to easily find affordable housing throughout the Commonwealth. The Housing Navigator will replace the difficult-to-navigate patchwork of online and offline advertisements that Massachusetts residents currently use to identify affordable housing. The initiative, led by the Kuehn Charitable Foundation, is a partnership involving more than a dozen nonprofit and government agencies.
As noted in the Boston Globe’s recent coverage of the Housing Navigator, eligible renters face significant challenges as they try to identify available units. Affordable housing units may subjects of federal, state, or local programs, meaning information about them is often not centralized. Some existing resources divide the market at the municipal level, rather than the state level, making it difficult to search across communities. All of this leads to situations where “high-profile new developments often draw huge numbers of applicants.”
By aggregating information and presenting it clearly, the Housing Navigator aims to simplify the process and create efficiencies for all involved. As noted in Kuehn’s summer 2019 technical assessment for the project, “[g]ood information is fundamental to good choices,” and “[f]ew choices influence our lives as much as the place we call home.”
Fall 2019 Cyberlaw Clinic Students Ari Sillman and Nick Berk contributed to the effort, along with Clinical Instructor Mason Kortz, and with support from the Clinic’s Managing Director, Christopher Bavitz.