Photo by Guzmán Barquín on Unsplash

The New York Housing Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) received two awards for digital innovation during the New York City Technology Forum this week. The “Best App” serving the public was awarded to HPD’s online affordable housing lottery NYC Housing Connect in addition to the “Best App” serving agency business awarded to the Real-Time Field Force (RTFF) mobile tablet app for housing maintenance inspections.

The two awards recognize HPD’s commitment to center technology and innovation to improve city services and achieve its mission to promote affordable housing, tenant safety, and thriving neighborhoods. Sponsored by Government Technology, an award-winning publication covering technology’s role in state and local governments, the annual New York City Technology forum spotlights spurring innovation in the public sector.

“We believe in the transformative power of technology and its ability to improve the lives of everyday New Yorkers. Our new NYC Housing Connect website and the Real Time Field Force app are stellar examples of our commitment to innovation and helping more people in better and faster ways,” HPD Commissioner Adolfo Carrión Jr. “I am proud of the collaboration between our tech team and program staff, working together to meet the mission of our agency. I am gratified that their critical work is receiving the recognition it deserves.”

“The work being done by the New York Housing Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) is second to none. Their efforts are being recognized for meeting the needs of the people with incredible technology initiatives,” said Phil Bertolini, Government Technology Senior Vice President. “Congratulations to the entire HPD team!”

“The GovTech Awards are affirmation of the hard work and commitment from our teams and HPD Tech to create value and advance tools that support our workforce’s ability deliver on HPD’s mission to create affordable housing and strengthen neighborhoods,” said Prashant Thakker, Chief Information Officer and Deputy Commissioner for HPD Tech. “Real-Time Field Force is a state-of-the-art mobile app that serves Housing Inspectors in the field and the Housing Connect portal is connecting New Yorkers to affordable housing across the five boroughs. These technology solutions would not be a reality without the dedicated team of staff at HPDTech.”

With more than one million active users, NYC Housing Connect is one of the largest affordable housing resources in the nation. New Yorkers access the website as a one-stop shop to find and apply for affordable housing lotteries across the five boroughs. In 2020, a new website with significant tech upgrades, worked to streamline the application process and allow applicants to search for homes based on the family size, income and household needs. Housing Connect 2.0’s enhanced user interface facilitates online document submission, instant income calculation, and use on mobile devices.  Based on its user-friendly design and reach, it was awarded Best Application Serving the Public.”

“NYC Housing Connect is a powerful tool that connects families to the affordable housing best suited for their household. At a time when finding affordable housing can seem more challenging than ever, the new and improved Housing Connect is a user-friendly portal that makes finding and applying for affordable housing easier than ever before,” said Anne-Marie Hendrickson Deputy Commissioner for Asset Management. “I commend our colleagues for the hard work they put into these efforts to make affordable housing opportunities even more accessible to New Yorkers.”

Additionally, the Real-Time Field Force (RTFF) data software facilitated a paper to digital transition for housing maintenance inspections, allowing the real-time transfer of housing complaint information to Inspectors and the real-time capture of maintenance data during home inspections. As the City enforcer of the Housing Maintenance Code, HPD’s Division of Code Enforcement manages over two hundred Housing Inspectors who conduct inspections to identify and report housing code violations. The new software reduced delays from the former paper process and ensured that high priority inspections are addressed more quickly. RTFF’s simple interface guides inspectors through the inspection process, recommending the most likely next steps and helping to reduce errors in the process.

“Real Time Field Force is replacing a 20-year-old inspection tool. Its impact on our ability to improve services, in response to serious complaints like a lack of heat or hot water or collapsing ceilings, cannot be overstated,” said HPD Deputy Commissioner for Code Enforcement AnnMarie Santiago. “This Best Apps award is an important recognition of the role of technology for improving government efficiency, and by extension, addressing the needs of everyday New Yorkers to live in safe conditions.”