HousingWorks Mission Statement
Vision Statement
White Papers


Mission Statement
HousingWorks aims to reduce or eliminate barriers to subsidized, affordable, and special needs housing by utilizing a unique ecosystem model, one that places state and federal oversight agencies, for-profit management companies, housing authorities, housing advocates, and the homeless in a position to render each other indispensable services.
Vision Statement
HousingWorks is a service designed to help individuals and organizations working in the subsidized/affordable/special needs housing world take advantage of the symbiotic linkage that our model revealed is already present. The housing world has many broken helping systems that do not work together and cannot be made together through better coordinatioin. Simply by launching HousingWorks, we overlaid onto the many broken and disconnected housing networks an Ecosystem model that could function smoothly with a little institutional support. The more the living (applicants, landlords and planners) and non-living aspects of the Housing world (computer systems, marketing initiatives, internet connections, and databases) recognize and rely on the benefits of working as if we are all connected (which of course we are), the more they increase service delivery and simultaneously save money. You can see in detail how balkanized the current system is by viewing this three-page document, Description of the current Broken Housing System

The following is paraphrased from: The Ecosystem: Concept, Structure, and Function

"Usually, biotic members of an ecosystem (living aspects), together with their abiotic factors (non-living environments) depend on each other. This means the introduction of a new biotic or abiotic factor, or the sudden absence of a biotice or abiotic factor can be disastrous to the entire ecosystem."

(The link above provides an excellent starting point if you want to learn more about ecosystems in general.)

Key Design Elements
Even prior to launch, HousingWorks was being hailed as a welcome relief to households who struggled to find basic information about housing options, rents, amenities, proximity to public transportation, waitlist times, and more. But to the success of the service were four innovative design elements that were not universally understood at the time, and that still make the system unique:
  1. first, the service we created did not operate as a silo; instead, it provided benefits to one group without creating obstacles for other stakeholders in the low-income housing world;
  2. second, the symbiotic design of the HousingWorks system, applicants and landlords meant that landlords and applicants benefitted from the service even if HousingWorks was unknown to them;
  3. third,the system was intentionally designed to avoid or minimize systems upheaval a vital consideration for offices and people that were already overwhelmed; and,
  4. fourth, unlike most other homeless initiatives, the system was designed to provide data as a side effect of increased service delivery for applicants and landlords.
This combination of design elements are essential to creating a solution, and were present from the very beginning, in 2000. Since its launch in 2000, these key elements have helped speed up the adoption of the system at the grass-roots level, and have ensured that the introduction of new features was non-disruptive; The process of launch and implementation was not without its pitfalls, however: "Our initial implementation was seen in some quarters as an invasion of turf", states founder John LaBella. "Government likes to own and control data, so employees who maintain one or more silos probably felt that we came out of left field and put their job at risk. Everyone who works in affordable housing does so out of a sense of mission, so who were we to say we had the ‘best vision’? What kept us going was the knowledge that our system was, in several ways, unique: it was designed by hundreds of actual users across all three sectors; it opened up immediate access to thousands of applicants who were being excluded by the existing system; and in the process of helping, and did no harm to anyone providing housing, or looking for housing."

White Papers
Multi-Helping Systems as Barriers: How HousingWorks Identified the Systemic Obstacles to Fair Housing (PDF)

How an Ecosytem Model Works: The Rationale Behind HousingWorks (PPT)

HousingWorks, Inc.   |   P.O. Box 231104   |   Boston, MA 02123-1104
Converting Broken Networks into an Ecosystem

© HousingWorks.net, 2000