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Tech, Bias, and Housing Initiative

Whether you are trying to buy a home, apply for a rental property, or you’re looking for a roommate, there are an endless number of brand new companies and digital products offering to help you do just that. They promise speed, efficiency, and a modern approach to slow and sometimes exclusionary rental or homeownership processes.

These new companies are venture-backed and digitally-enabled—and they play an increasingly influential role in the economy. From new modes of housing construction to automated home buying, tech-enabled companies promise to scale to massive market share and reap higher valuations along the way.

As unprecedented capital investment flows into this space, venture-backed companies’ winner-take-all approach to growth has the potential to exacerbate inequality in the housing space. Under these conditions, startups’ disruption mindset creates a risky landscape that could—without ethical frameworks and processes to ensure equitable outcomes—dramatically accelerate racial and economic inequities.

The Tech, Bias, and Housing Initiative examines these potential harms and biases through comprehensive research, corporate practice, and public policy advocacy.

What We're Building

The Tech, Bias, and Housing Initiative has three main components:

Research

We will shed light on spaces where these new classes of companies could exacerbate—or mitigate—racial bias in the housing market.

Policy

In close partnership with other organizations in the housing justice movement, we will develop and advocate for public policy that addresses the harms we identify through our research.

Corporate Practice

We will work with companies who operate in this ecosystem to develop practices, standards, programming, and tools that can help prevent the types of harm identified in our research.

Housing + Tech Company Landscape

To lay the groundwork for the Tech, Bias, and Housing Initiative, we developed a landscape of the major subsectors of the venture-backed housing ecosystem. We’ve identified major players in each subsector and shared funding traction, product descriptions, and scale of impact for each company.

Tenant Screening

Tenant Screening

Current Market Size: $3 Billion

Homebuying

Homebuying

60% of home sale transactions by 2025

Home Financing

Home Financing

Market Size:
$315 Billion by 2025

Construction

Construction

Market Size:
$13 Billion by 2025

Shared Living

Shared Living

Market Size:
$14 Billion by 2025

Tenant Screening

(click row for details)

Company NameSoftware TypeCapital RaisedKey Investors
NaborlyRisk Assessment Report$8.5 millionTrinity, First Round Capital, Y Combinator
RentSpreeTenant Verification Package$10.4 million645 Ventures, TenOneTen Ventures
TurboTenantProperty Management Platform with Tenant Screening$10.2 millionRET Ventures, Access Ventures, Crescendo Capital Partners, FrontRange Capital Partners
AvailLandlord/Tenant Relationship Management Platform$9.7 millionCultivation Capital, Bigfoot Capital, Nameless Ventures, Charmides Capital

Potential Harms

Our initial landscape assessment revealed harms that these tools and business models could potentially exacerbate—ultimately perpetuating bias and inequity in housing. Over the next year, we will explore these issues in depth in our working papers.