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Zillow Group, Inc. has announced its first “social impact program,” “The Home Project,” pledging $5 million in cash and in-kind contributions over the next five years for housing

insecurity needs. The Home Project has several pillars to help combat housing insecurity in a number of ways:

  • Community Partners: Zillow Group is partnering with non-profits whose mission aligns with The Home Project in the regions where the company has offices. These Community Partners receive $25,000, in addition to in-kind contributions such as product development, marketing resources, economic research and volunteer time. This year, Zillow Group’s Community Partners are Win (formerly Women in Need) (New York); Habitat for Humanity of Orange County (Irvine, Calif.); and three in Seattle: Mary’s Place, Downtown Emergency Services Center (DESC) and Seattle Housing Authority. Zillow Group will name additional Community Partners in Atlanta, Cincinnati, Denver, Lincoln, San Francisco, and Vancouver B.C. next year.
  • Neighborhood Ambassadors: Zillow Group employees can become Neighborhood Ambassadors by nominating local non-profits whose missions align with The Home Project. Selected organizations receive $1,500 and coordinated volunteer support office-wide.
  • Product Development: Hundreds of millions of people already use the Zillow Group brands each month, and the creation of products to help people find secure housing is an important part of The Home Project.

Some products have already been created. In 2016, Zillow Group announced a new rental search filter “Community Pillar and Income Restricted,” which enables renters who qualify as low-income or with imperfect housing history to connect with a landlord who is willing to rent to them. Most recently, in response to the fires in Northern California, Zillow Group rentals brand HotPads partnered with the city of Santa Rosa to provide data for their “Find-a-Rental” website to help those displaced find temporary housing.

In addition, to encourage the continued development of products that help people find secure housing, in 2017 Zillow Group introduced an employee cash prize for those who create such products as part of Hack Weeks and Innovation Weeks.

“At Zillow Group, our mission every day is to help millions of Americans find the place they call home, and we are uniquely positioned to understand the challenges some face and impact their housing outcomes,” says Amy Bohutinsky, COO of Zillow Group. “Focusing on housing security is a natural extension of our work, and we will tackle it with all the resources we have to offer—shining a light on information through economic research, mobilizing our employees, contributing to organizations, and building products and features across our real estate and rental brands. We believe everyone deserves a home where they can thrive, regardless of their economic circumstances.”

Across the country, housing costs have not kept up with incomes, leaving many people just one medical bill, job loss, or rental increase away from losing their homes. For example, Zillow’s research shows that in the Los Angeles metro, a 5 percent increase in rent would translate to an additional 2,000 people falling into homelessness. In New York, more than 3,000 people would experience homelessness if rents increase 5 percent. In Seattle, that increase would add 258 people to the homeless population, for a total of 12,498.

“New York’s working poor know firsthand that housing costs continue to climb, while many incomes stay stubbornly flat,” says Christine C. Quinn, president and CEO of Win, formerly Women in Need, the largest provider of shelter and services for homeless women and their children in New York City. “More than 51 percent of our mothers are working, many with multiple jobs, yet they are not able to afford a place of their own in this city. Thousands of New Yorkers are a missed paycheck away from finding themselves homeless. Zillow Group’s The Home Project is living proof that the private and non-profit sector can come together and find real solutions for the affordability and income inequality crisis running rampant in New York and cities across the country.”

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