National Day of Civic Hacking devoted to housing

By: Mia Watson

Area software developers and web designers gathered Saturday to use their technical expertise to improve the availability of affordable housing in the Green Mountain State.  Thanks to Code for BTV, Burlington joined over 35 cities across the country in bringing civic-minded, tech-savvy individuals together with housing organizations to help improve the flow of information about housing to the people who need it.

Nick Floersch, Code for BTV Brigade Co-Captain, invited reps from VHFA, Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition and Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness to use the services of the civic hackers on Saturday to improve outstanding web sites and other issues. “We are continuously looking for ways to build more bridges so civic organizations can use the tech community’s expertise to serve Vermonters in need more effectively,” Floersch explained.  

After hearing about the projects each housing organization needed help with, the volunteers split into groups and got to work.  For VHFA, software developer Nowell Strite and system designer Ans Bradford quickly updated the code running the Vermont Rental Codes web site while Burlington Code Academy instructor Joshua dug into the Vermont Resident Services Coordinator web site created by VHFA over a decade ago. The 3 experts suggested ways to modernize, improve accessibility and load time to help website visitors get the information they need more easily. 

Erhard Mahnke at Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition and Rick Castillo at Vermont State Housing Authority who helps coordinate the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness also worked with teams of IT experts, product managers, QA professionals, software engineers, and Burlington Code Academy students on Saturday to improve websites and systems used by these organizations to serve low income Vermonters. On behalf of Vermont’s affordable housing organizations, thank you to Vermont’s dedicated and talented civic hackers!

Pictured: Leslie Black-Plumeau, VHFA, works with software developer Nowell Strite on the Vermont Rental Codes website at Saturday’s National Day of Civic Hacking in Burlington, Vermont.