Today we’re at the White House, celebrating the end of a sprint on the Opportunity Project, a collaboration among federal agencies, technologists, and communities to build digital tools with open data that improve people’s lives. We’re proud to be showcased with all of these amazing projects, demonstrating the very best of what can be done with open data to expand opportunities for all. Watch live here.

Mapbox took on the challenge faced by Section 8 Housing Seekers. The Housing Choice Vouchers Program, aka Section 8, provides rent payment assistance to low-income Americans, as well as the elderly and disabled. Searching for housing with vouchers can be complicated. Voucher amounts can vary by neighborhood, number of rooms, and household income. Plus, there are limited choices available, sometimes across unfamiliar parts of a large metropolitan region. Decisions for these families often need to be made fast.

In response, we built Neighborhood Opportunity, a mobile centered neighborhood profile tool for Section 8 housing seekers, to rapidly assess neighborhood families facilities – number of schools, acres of parks & playgrounds, supermarkets – along with the estimated localized voucher amounts in the area.

Built with Mapbox GL JS, we focused on keeping the tool very simple for housing seekers. Enter an address, the number of rooms needed, and get a concise neighborhood summary to help make a decision on a housing option. The tool uses Department of Housing and Urban Development data to estimate the housing subsidy, and data from OpenStreetMap for the amenity assessment. There is more we can do here, but we need more open data – like the precise subsidy level set by Public Housing Agencies, and the local utility allowance. We also want to incorporate more qualitative data on amenities, like school details from the already open Department of Education Civil Rights Data Collection.

It was great to participate in the Opportunity Project and sharpen our approach to this challenge in discussion with federal agencies. These insights helped us focus on end user needs, and know where to find the most relevant data. We’d love to iterate further on this tool, and get it into the hands of housing seekers. We’d also love to work in collaboration on even more urban opportunity issues. Sign up with Mapbox Cities, or get in touch with me or Mikel to talk more.