A Message From: Samantha Linnett, Innovation Design Lead
Back in November, the City of Syracuse posted an RFP as part of the Startup in Residence Program (STIR) with a list of city challenges to be solved. STIR is a program that started at the City of San Francisco and is now an independent nonprofit that works with governments to match them with startups across the country to solve city challenges. The City works with these startups for a 16 week design period, at the end of which a solution has been developed. If the City likes the solution, we can move forward into contracting with the startup. If not, we have no obligation to contract.
One of the challenges the City submitted is in regards to residents needing short-term access to emergency housing funding. The startup we are partnering with is proposing a peer-to-peer crowdfunding solution. This program would allow community members with financial means to contribute money to a pool that residents-in-need could access to cover emergency housing expenses. These expenses could include a security deposit, one month's rent, utility bills, or moving costs.
We are asking for your help! We need to get an estimate of a “funder” market in order for this solution to have potential. While potential funders could definitely include local businesses and philanthropy, they also include you! Below is a link to a short survey. It should take no longer than 5 minutes. We would love if you could fill it out by 5pm on Monday, February 11, and share with your colleagues, friends, and neighbors! All responses are anonymous and will not be shared.
Take the survey here!
Mayor Walsh has made it a priority to improve housing stability and reduce transiency of Syracuse residents. Based upon qualitative research, security deposits or other emergency expenses are a major contributing issue to housing stability challenges.
The City of Syracuse has a law in place which states that landlords have up to 21 days to return security deposits or tell tenants that they will not receive a refund. Currently, when low-income renters move, they need start-up capital to cover their new security deposit and their first month’s rent. They rely upon their previous security deposit being returned. However, many landlords take the full three weeks to return this money. This means that renters either move into poorer quality housing where they can afford the start-up costs (which leads to housing stability issues), or they couch surf for a month until their previous security deposit has been returned (which leads to transiency issues).
If the City of Syracuse was able to help with security deposit and emergency housing fund challenges for renters, it would help reduce transiency, which impacts school performance, job security, health, and other social issues.
Thank you in advance for all of your help! Please feel free to reach out with questions.
Innovation Design Lead
Office of Accountability, Performance, & Innovation
City of Syracuse