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Housing Connector expands to Pierce County, bringing innovative housing approach to more of Puget Sound region

SEATTLE, July 21, 2021 — Local nonprofit Housing Connector, which uses Zillow’s technology to match private property owners and managers to those experiencing homelessness, is now operating in Pierce County thanks to a partnership with the County and funding from the Tacoma Housing Authority.

Expanding to Pierce County means Housing Connector can play a larger role in addressing the Puget Sound region’s homelessness crisis. More than 1,950 people — 67% of which are households of color — have found permanent homes through Housing Connector in the roughly two years it has been operating in King County.

“No apartment should sit vacant when so many people need homes,” said Shkelqim Kelmendi, the executive director of Housing Connector. “Finding these units and placing residents into them is too often a disjointed process that both landlords and renters find difficult to navigate. This is where Housing Connector comes in — with dedicated staff, tailor-made technology via Zillow’s search tool, and a proven model that, for the past two years, has helped house nearly 2,000 people. We know how urgent the need is throughout the Puget Sound region, and we are eager to get to work in Pierce County.”

Housing Connector uses an online affordable-housing search tool built and maintained by Zillow to match landlords with potential tenants. Thanks in part to efficiencies brought about by Zillow’s tool, Housing Connector has increased its inventory from 152 participating properties in March 2020 to more than 800 in July 2021, while keeping roughly the same staffing.

“The addition of Housing Connector provides an important resource for our residents,” said Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier. “As we work to bring regional solutions to more attainable housing, I’m pleased to welcome another key partner to our community.”

Housing Connector helps lower barriers to housing by offering assistance to residents and landlords. To help attract private property owners and managers as partners, Housing Connector provides free referrals to ready-to-rent residents and financial support to cover a variety of costs. This ensures access to benefits including guaranteed rents, security deposits, damage mitigation funds, and a single point for all customer support. In exchange, landlords adjust screening criteria (credit, eviction records, rental arrears, etc.) for potential residents, opening up units that previously were out of reach for individuals experiencing or on the brink of homelessness.

“At Zillow, we believe the security and opportunities of home should be within reach for everyone and that we all have a role to play to help make that a reality,” said Aldona Clottey, Zillow’s vice president of corporate social responsibility. “We’re proud that our technology is helping make it possible for Housing Connector to expand its proven, effective approach into Pierce County.”

As part of the expansion, the nonprofit will collaborate closely with Associated Ministries, which is already working to address homelessness and housing access in Pierce County.

“We’re all about community transformation, but we know that no one can do that work alone,” said Michael Yoder, executive director of Associated Ministries. “Housing Connector is a valuable ally in our work to find lasting solutions to homelessness.”

Thanks to the services and support provided by Housing Connector, renters referred by the organization can find and move into their next home faster and have the support to ensure they are able to maintain their housing stability.

“The Tacoma Housing Authority is pleased to welcome a like-minded organization like Housing Connector to Pierce County,” said April Black, the executive director of the Tacoma Housing Authority. “In the face of a growing housing crisis throughout Western Washington, it is more important than ever to ensure families and individuals have all the necessary t

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