Dennis: I am an architectural designer and member of the Boston Society of Architects' Task Force to End Homelessness. I am working with David Pearson of Shawmut Education, whom I believe you are familiar with. We are developing a website for our group, with certain services in mind.
One that we came up with for the site is a service that would serve both landlords/homeowners/property owners and the homeless community by generating a list of available affordable units, and a list of people in need. I think of it similar to BostonApartments.com or Craig'sList, our something to that effect, the difference being the idea of a focused target market, the homeless community and people who have available space.
Upon David and I discussing this idea, we wondered if there were any legal policies or licensure issues to consider in operating a service such as this. David suggested that I email you two, and see if you had any input in regards to this idea.
I appreciate you taking the time to read this message. I look forward to any response or advice that you might provide regarding this idea.
Bill: Thanks for including me on the routing list for this. I've got some experience with affordable housing and technology issues that I might be helpful on this question. What's the best way to participate / provide feedback?
One of the keys will be providing restricted access to the homeless, as anyone using BostonApartments.com or Craig'sList, our would be tempted to use the same system. This was the kind of functionality I tried to develop in the business plan I may have mentioned to you call HomeSearchID. At one point, we had then Mayor Anthony Galluccio quite interested in the proposal, which was XML based, because it would have created a mechanism to automate the application process used by a myriad of affordable housing programs in the city. At one point, I believe there were 17 different applications people could fill out!
In the end the project was abandoned because it would be too efficient, and would have ended up eliminating jobs. Given the state's 2.5 billion deficit, there may be a new openness.
I was involved in another program where private individuals opened up their private homes to homeless people as a transitional step to market rate housing. Not sure if they are still around, this was about five years ago. This inventory would be easier to monitor because the landlord is there on a daily basis, and interviews potential candidates.
Lots more from where that came from...
David: I was hoping Bill could talk a little more about "providing restricted access to the homeless"