Cincinnati hacks solutions to evictions and homelessness

  • 40 applications.
  • 24 contestants.
  • 9 top submissions.
Using data, tools, insight collection, and communication, ten local organizations
partnered to find out what is the right intervention at the right time to keep
families stable at the Housing Stabilization Hackathon earlier this month. These organizations included 84.51, St. Vincent DePaul, Legal Aid Society, Lighthouse Youth and Family Services, YWCA, Bethany House, Flywheel Social Enterprise Hub, and Found House Interfaith Housing Network.

After a one-week sprint to imagine and design systems that can interrupt a family’s path from being at risk for housing loss to homelessness, entrepreneurs, innovators, and community members competed in the event on Friday, Feb. 2.

Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval delivered the welcome address. “The challenge may be profound, but the city is all in. If any city in the country is going to figure out how we grow without displacing families, it’s Cincinnati.” he said.

Local leaders from Cincinnat’s social services, nonprofit, and startup communities served as judges.

TenantGuard went home with the first place award and a check for $1,000. Led by
Betsy Ehmcke, a data scientist at 84.51, the team included Bijorn Burrell, Jacob Pieniazek, and Nick Ramos. TenantGuard used machine learning trained on 22 weeks of data from the Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey. This data could potentially predict when a tenant would be perceived to be at risk of eviction and give families access to a chatbot with a library with local tenant resources.

“A lot of what we have to do to build a solution is to get the data into a usable state. TenantGuard is a solution that collects clean data from the start,” Nick Ramos said.

Four contestants were also recognized for the merits of their ideas in various categories. PRVNT won Best Use of Data, and HESTIA took home Best Presentation.

Cyrina Thomas, Shakeita Moore-Lilly, Alexandria Barnes, Sherry Powell, Candace Gasper and Carroll Wallace won the award for a solution that showed Dignity for the Lived Experience while FinCare won Most Creative Approach.

“When we focus on shelter diversion, we’re 95% more effective at keeping people housed. If we intervene earlier, we spend less money and are more effective,” said Kevin Finn, CEO of Strategies to End Homelessness.

The hackathon was made possible by the housing stabilization Impact Award from the City of Cincinnati. With this award, City Council funded the collaborative project
between multiple organizations and the city to address Cincinnati’s eviction and housing crisis.
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by Miyah Byrd.

Miyah Byrd is a storyteller and advocate based in Ohio. Her work has been featured in KIIONA Magazine, Forge, Human Parts, and ThriveGlobal. She is a former educator whose interests include food insecurity, green energy, and the self-sufficiency of the black community.