Homeownership is a marker of the achieving the American Dream.
But often viewed Black Americans are denied access to that milestone. Only 46.4% Black Americans are homeowners compared to 75.8% of white families. Additionally, homes in predominantly Black neighborhoods are valued at $48,000 less than those in predominately white communities equating to a loss of about $156 billion in equity. Of course, this deeply contributed to the pervasive racial wealth gap Black families are on the damaging end of.
To help support the closing of this chasm, Zillow held its second annual HBCU Housing Hackathon. More than 200 students and were awarded cash prizes for their innovative ideas efforts to help provide housing solutions.
The top prize went to students from from Morgan State University c(L-R) Nanfwang Dawurang, Godsheritage Adeoye, Oluwadara Dina and Saad Nadeem. They were awarded $20,000 for their “Z-Save” app, which estimates monthly mortgage costs and lets users deposit that amount into a virtual wallet that tracks their payment trends. The app also shows lenders data points to help determine whether potential homeowners qualify for a mortgage and offer them a way to prove creditworthiness outside the traditional credit scoring system as described by a news releases.
“I wanted to participate in the hackathon to learn more about the real estate industry and explore on a deeper level how technology can help solve the most prominent issues people face every day when trying to secure a home,” said Nanfwang Dawurang in a news release. “Seeing how different people look at the same issue in completely different ways and the various innovative and exciting ideas presented in tackling housing issues showed me that progress can always be made when people come together and are intentional about solving a problem.”
The program is aimed at engaging students to use their insight toward providing real world solutions and also earn funds that can be applied toward college costs.
“We are very impressed with the caliber of the work, the quality of the presentations, and the outstanding, innovative ideas the students displayed at Zillow’s second HBCU Housing Hackathon,” said Aldona Clottey, Zillow vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility and one of the judges. “With 20 schools represented, this hackathon not only helps Zillow continue to foster engagement among HBCUs, but it allows us to tap our next generation of technology leaders to help ensure we are continuously evolving as a company and positively impacting the technology industry as a whole.”
The winning app idea was designed to help mitigate denial rates for Black and Latinx borrowers due to low credit scores.