Fred Tombar, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Housing & Urban Development for Disaster Programs
Brian Forde, Senior Advisor to the U.S. CTO for Mobile and Data Innovation
Earlier this month, Hurricane Sandy tore through the Northeast leaving thousands of families to pick up the pieces of their homes. As families begin the process of rebuilding, the demand for rental housing is making it difficult for these families to find alternative housing.
While the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has worked to expand housing options for lower income families displaced by Hurricane Sandy, HUD, in conjunction with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, worked with several technology companies that have joined a national effort to help these families with innovative housing solutions. These efforts are evidence of the good that can come when Federal agencies work with the private sector to harness data and technology in creative ways.
- Angie’s List is providing free, one-year memberships to 1,000 homeowners within the NYC Tri-State area to help with Sandy relief. Families may claim the memberships by calling 877-648-2448. Membership will enable families to easily determine local contractors, auto repair specialists and health care professionals who are highly rated by other consumers. Families can also check http://www.angieslist.com/hurricane-sandy for hiring tips, help in avoiding scams, and a free tool to check the license statuses of various companies.
- Airbnb, an online marketplace for finding accommodations, created a free Sandy site to help connect victims of the storm with available housing. Airbnb had already waived its usual fees for the entire affected region, but has since gone a step further by setting up a separate, Sandy-only page where hosts can donate their space for free to those in need of temporary housing. To date, more than 1,350 generous people have used Airbnb to offer free living space to those displaced by Sandy, and Airbnb is encouraging even more people to participate. Anyone who wishes to provide housing help can go to www.airbnb.com/sandy and sign up. Airbnb will still be providing its usual services, including 24/7 customer service and a million dollar host guarantee in case of damage.
- HotelTonight, a hotel booking application, recently announced a $60,000 contribution to the American Red Cross to support relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Sandy. As part of the company’s ongoing commitment to helping Sandy survivors, HotelTonight is donating ten percent of its net revenue in New York City for the entire month of November to the Red Cross.
- Walk Score launched a website (http://www.walkscore.com/sandy/) to support people in search of temporary housing after Hurricane Sandy. This website helps people search for housing by commute-time for various modes of transit, including public transit, driving, walking, or biking. For example, residents in need of housing can search for a place to live that is within a 30 minute commute of their workplace or their child’s school.