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:
We will shed light on spaces where these new classes of companies could exacerbate—or mitigate—racial bias in the housing market.
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.
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.
It’s time to take a closer look at tenant screening tools that can be the gateway to rental housing and the impact they have on housing accessibility.
Tech is enabling an emerging new class of corporate landlords that exacerbate harm and take advantage of increasingly desperate renters and would-be homeowners.
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.
Landlords are taking leasing and property management online, relying on automated background checks when selecting renters. Companies use algorithms that score potential renters based on data inputs that are often obscured to both renters and landlords. Click each row for more details about the company.
|Company||Type||Capital Raised||Key Investors|
|Naborly||Risk Assessment Report||$8.5 million||Trinity, First Round Capital, Y Combinator|
|RentSpree||Tenant Verification Package||$10.4 million||645 Ventures, TenOneTen Ventures|
|TurboTenant||Property Management Platform with Tenant Screening||$10.2 million||RET Ventures, Access Ventures, Crescendo Capital Partners, FrontRange Capital Partners|
|Avail||Landlord/Tenant Relationship Management Platform||$9.7 million||Cultivation Capital, Bigfoot Capital, Nameless Ventures, Charmides Capital|