The Eviction Aid Kit is an app meant to provide housing insecure residents of San Francisco with a central repository of relevant information and resources, displayed in a format that’s easy to navigate and emotionally responsive to their situation.
As we all know, eviction and housing security was a huge problem pre-COVID-19 and the pandemic will only make it even worse. We found in our research that success rates with tenant-landlord intervention programs are very high. But so-called “power users”--people who are gung-ho about solving their problems--disproportionately capture these benefits. We wanted to create something that would increase engagement with successful programs that already exist by targeting stressors in the lives of tenants and connecting them to the proper resources.
We decided to focus on single parents as our target user due to the variety and intensity of challenges that they face in their pursuit of housing security. Study after study has shown that single parents--among other vulnerable groups--are at an elevated risk for evictions, even before the pandemic. These maps demonstrate why San Francisco is an ideal target for an app-based innovation. This is one example of several working class neighborhoods we looked at and in which we noticed a high concentration of single parents. These neighborhoods also feature a high concentration of poverty where a staggering 60% of households are directly affected. A false assumption is that low-income households don’t have access to technology and the Internet. More than 80% of the households have access to the internet. These neighborhoods feature a high concentration of internet access via phone . And a high concentration of smartphone access. An average of 80% of people have access to a smartphone.
Single parents face many challenges that may impact their ability to successfully engage with preserving and maintaining their housing. Among these, they may be juggling parenthood with two or more jobs. And they may be facing confounding factors such as food insecurity and childcare issues.
Eviction Aid Kit was inspired by the idea of a first aid kit--which is designed to stop the bleeding right away with a limited set of tools.
Eviction is a complicated process. We won’t be able to solve the eviction issue in its entirety, so Eviction Aid Kit intends to provide bite size help to alleviate the traumatic eviction experience and stop it from becoming a legal issue. We transformed an aid kit into an apartment and associated the assistance and issues with familiar household items to engage the users emotionally and show them that they can solve this issue. We also plan on partnering with not only non-profit organizations such as Conflict Intervention Services but also private companies in order to defray costs and leverage the tech market in San Francisco to provide resources.
In San Francisco, rent takes up a large chunk of tenants’ incomes and there’s little leftover for food. In gentrified or gentrifying neighborhoods, poor residents may not have affordable food retailers. The Kit addresses this issue by connecting users to free or discounted meals, groceries, formula or baby food.
One of the most common causes of evictions are conflicts between tenants and landlords. For example, when a tenant loses his or her job and can no longer pay rent, the first thing they should do is call their landlord, explain the situation, and come to a compromise. Instead, tenants frequently--and understandably--freak out and “go dark.” This leaves the landlord with no choice but to initiate the eviction process. By connecting tenants to mediation services such as the Bar Association of San Francisco’s Conflict Intervention Service, we hope to open up channels of communication between tenants and landlords and resolve issues before the formal eviction process is set into motion.
Childcare is an especially difficult and expensive challenge for single parents. When childcare plans fall through, single parents are often left unable to fulfill work responsibilities, losing income that could have gone toward rent. The childcare problem is exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. With many schools across the country still closed, parents can no longer count on their children being supervised during school hours. The Kit helps parents resolve, or at least alleviate, these issues by connecting parents to free or low-cost childcare providers, government services that assist with childcare costs, and free supplies such as toys and diapers.
Oftentimes housing security issue occur alongside mental health or social issues. Tenants are stressed and anxious. This prevents engagement with the process and communication with their landlords. Additionally, issues such as domestic violence and interpersonal conflicts with neighbors can lead to conflicts with landlords. The Kit connects users to mental health resources in San Francisco at the click of a button. Resources and contact methods are displayed in a discrete yet easy-access format.
We hope to grab the attention of potential users by advertising through flyers in grocery stores, doctors’ offices, daycare centers, parks, and places of worship. We will also advertise to healthcare providers and other direct service professionals, who can pass along information about the Kit to any clients that voice housing-related concerns. Finally, we would also advertise through social media, Google AdWords, and property management networks.