Ten years ago we were all shocked by the storm hitting the Gulf Coast and then over the next two weeks the inept response to those struggling with the disaster. We saw how the Army Corps of Engineers had done a disservice to the region by creating a failed levee system that resulted in drowning of the Crescent City. In Cleveland, we helped with a relocating hundreds of people in both temporary and long term assistance. Cuyahoga and Cleveland officials along with the Red Cross, Mental Health Services, and hundreds of volunteers opened the Cleveland Convention Center to those struggling with the loss of their housing. The community pulled together to make it as easy as possible to find relatives and find housing in Greater Cleveland. We were fortunate to have just opened the website HousingCleveland.org only two weeks before. This allowed caring landlords to list their property just as hundreds were traveling north to find a place to live after their houses were flooded in the Gulf region.
The City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority directed all of their landlords to the site to list their property. Within one month we had already populated the site with 4,000 potential units and 400 available units. Everyone wanted to help and we had this wonderful website overseen by the North Carolina Not-for-Profit Company, Socialserve who helped set up this resource. They have the call center to respond to questions and help landlords list their property. Socialserve also calls landlords who have not logged in and keep the information updated. NEOCH helped to set up a local advisory board of housing, government and social service providers to manage the website. The local community really embraced the website, and it quickly shot up to one of the largest of these housing search websites in the country.
SocialServe.com recently sold off the software (click for press release) to focus on customer service and expansion. We have had as much traffic as much larger cities, and the website has expanded to 36 states from the dozen or so 10 years ago. The disaster services folks in many states have embraced the website realizing how valuable it is to have a place to list available housing units in the event of a natural disaster. The website is free to use for both the individual searching for housing and landlords listing their property. We partner with CMHA to list the properties in which landlords who accept a voucher may have vacancies. The call center has Spanish speaking staff to handle potential tenants who do not speak English.
We have had before the housing bubble burst over 1 million people searching for housing in one year on the site. There are 700 available units on the site today. There are 5,500 landlords using the site who have placed 32,000 units in the database. There were 992,500 searches done over the last year by nearly 300,000 users. There is an ability to log in to the site for housing case managers to get additional information about the properties on the site. It is only operational in Cuyahoga and Summit Counties at this time, but we hope to expand it statewide. We are happy to celebrate 10 years of HousingCleveland.org and look forward to future growth.
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