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Housing Hackathon Recognizes Programs for Struggling Renters/Buyers

Zillow’s HBCU Housing Hackathon, which drew more than 150 students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), awarded top prizes to teams that explored ways to help at-risk renters and struggling first-time home buyers. The top three finishers in the hackathon, created in collaboration with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), Black Tech Ventures (BTV) and Amplify 4 Good, won over the judges with projects that offer solutions to barriers in the housing journey.

A team of four Morehouse College students won first place and $20,000 for its program that uses machine learning to predict increases in rent and utility costs at a particular address over time, offering renters early warning about looming affordability challenges. Zillow also will donate $25,000 to Morehouse College’s computer science program as part of the first-place prize.

The event brought together 49 teams representing 17 HBCUs. Six teams advanced to the final round and had five minutes to present their ideas virtually, using live demonstrations and presentation decks to a panel of judges made up of Zillow and tech industry leaders.

“It was inspiring to see everyone dig into this challenge and bring their perspective on solutions to some of the problems people face when it comes to renting, buying or selling a home,” said Aldona Clottey, Zillow vice president of corporate social responsibility and one of the judges.

The first-place team from Morehouse, Househouse, included Kendall Camp, Grant Commodore, Joshua Curry and Paul Lockett. Its “Reliby” application addresses financial uncertainty for long-term renters and provides users with a stability score to illuminate dramatic increases in living expenses that might come months or years in the future.


Inside The Story

Aldona Clottey

About Lisa Brown

Lisa Brown has decades of experience in corporate communications and marketing management with organizations including Coldwell Banker Residential, Grubb & Ellis, Marcus & Millichap, NAIOP, SIOR and ALM. In those positions, she worked in conjunction with chief executive officers and chief marketing officers to create corporate messaging, cohesive branding standards, strategic marketing plans and thought pieces. Brown is a frequent speaker at industry events and an editing adjunct professor for an online course. She has a master’s degree in mass communications from San Jose State University.

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